The Strangers is a horror/slasher film that tells the story of couple Kristen and James and how they were tortured by three complete masked strangers in their vacation home. It stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and is directed and written by Bryan Bertino. The movie is inspired by real events, one of which is a number of neighborhood break-ins during director Bertino’s childhood.
The movie was released on May 30, 2008. With a $9 million budget, the film went on to earn $82 million worldwide. Although it was a box office hit, it earned mix reviews from critics. The DVD and Blu-ray copies of The Strangers were released on October 21, 2008.
The movie opens with a narrative stating that an estimated 1.4 million violent crimes happen every year in the United States. And proceeds to introduce the events that led to the demise of couple Kristen McKay and James Hoyt on that fateful night of February 11, 2005.
Home after attending a friend’s wedding reception, and James’ proposal (Scott Speedman) rejected by Kristen (Liv Tyler), the couple went to the former’s childhood summer house to spend the night. However, their night of patching things up after the events earlier turned into a nightmare when three strangers: Dollface, The Man in the Mask, and Pin Up Girl terrorize them endlessly. A deadly cat-and-mouse game ensues, but the couple eventually succumbed to their demise.
Come daylight, the couple finds themselves tied to chairs in their living room. Facing the three strangers, Kristen then asks ‘why are you doing this to us?’, to which Dollface answers ‘because you were home’. All three proceeds to stab the couple and leave the house.
In case you’re wondering, The Stranger isn’t another teen flick with cringe-worthy acting and predictable killing spree scenes. The Stranger takes on the easiest route to scare you though – that of feeding on your greatest fear. What happened in this movie to Kristen and James could also happen to you!
The movie’s opening itself sets an ominous mood for the entire production. The fact that not any of the protagonists was there to tell the story gives you a bad feeling already.
The story is simple – you’re home and strangers terrorize you! But no matter how simple this premise is, the way Director Bertino builds a strong suspense feeds on basic human fear. The fact that this could actually happen to you in real life makes it even scarier.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman deserve recognition for their characterization of couple Kristen and James. While it’s easy to be in character when you’re scared, the film doesn’t thrive on much dialogue. But the actors effectively conveyed through body language and even silence the emotions that made the movie even more chilling. The same holds true for the three strangers – very minimal on dialogue, but never lacking that foreboding feeling of doom!
While critics have pointed out The Strangers measly premise and the simplistic story doesn’t really distinguish itself from other slasher movies, the fact that it will really scare the living hell out of your life is good enough reason to give it a watch!
When you’re done watching, it would really make you think. What if this could happen to me too?