Knock knock, it’s The Strangers

Crikey I had forgotten just how creepy this Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman movie was until I again watched the trailer while looking for an image to use. I am very glad that I saw it during the day, I don’t think I could have slept at night if I had seen it in the dark.

You will never view the “unwind in Melbourne” tourism ads (the ones with the giant red ball of string) the same way after seeing The Strangers. During one of the film’s creepiest scenes (as opposed to ultra-violent), Joanna Newsom’s whimsical/kooky/eerie Sprout and the Bean is playing on the record player…but who put the LP on (!?!)

Anyways here is my review (I haven’t checked to see if anything was edited out yet)  from today’s edition of The West Australian

Read it and shudder.

The Strangers (MA)

Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward

Directed by Bryan Bertino

3 stars

Review: Sue Yeap

 

As someone who deliberately goes out of their way to avoid horror movies, I’d say The Strangers had the desired affect on me. My knuckles were white, I had the jitters and was too terrified to sneak out in the dark to go to the toilet.

But let it be known that those less easily scared may not be entirely satisfied with this brutal film, the point of which seems to be to inflict as much torment and terror on the attractive lead as 80 minutes allows.

The Strangers is in many ways a fairly conventional slasher film that employs bump in the night style tactics and creepy music to create a rising sense of panic.

Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler are James Hoyt and Kristen McKay, a young couple in love whose relationship has just hit a hurdle; she has turned down his marriage proposal.

Returning to their isolated holiday home for what should have been a romantic, rose-petal strewn enchanted evening, James makes arrangements to have a friend pick him up.

Things start to go bad around 4am when a young girl (Gemma Ward, who spends most of the movie under a mask) arrives at the door looking for a Tamara. She returns to give Kristen the creeps while James is out buying her cigarettes.

As is mandatory in this genre the leads are always at a disadvantage and don’t do much to help themselves. Come on, who opens the door to strangers in the middle of the night not once, but twice?

James soon realises Kristen is not just being paranoid when the knocks at the door escalate to thumps, smashing and nasty notes scrawled on windows.

With the power cut, the mobile phone destroyed and the car out of order, the couple have little choice but to bunker down in this unfamiliar home and fight back as best they can against the creepy trio of masked assailants.

There were moments when I wanted to finish Kristen off myself, such as the scene in which she dives into a cutlery drawer to arm herself and grabs a what, a tiny paring knife!

Kristen runs and falls into a ditch, she has a torch but leaves it in a shed, she manages to get to a radio but instead of yelling for help and shouting out her address, whispers “can anyone hear me?” She may not be ready to marry James just yet but nor is she ready to die.

There has been much internet speculation as to the nature of the true events that “inspired” this film but it appears first time director Bryan Bertino actually drew on several stories and myths to create The Strangers rather than one ghastly crime.

All the classic horror movie behaviour is there, with the couple separating rather than staying together and finishing sentences by saying “be careful”. 

Given the action starts at 4am, I held on to a slim sliver of hope that the sun would rise, the increasingly nasty acts of violence would end and the whole thing would be someone’s bad dream.

No chance. What’s scariest is several comments leave the door wide open for a sequel.

 

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