Movie Title: The Strangers: Prey at Night
First Watch / Repeat Viewing
Running Time: 1 hr. and 25 min.
Who did I watch with?: Stephie
Where did I watch it?: Regal Stadium 12 – Swansea, MA
Isle of Dogs is not playing anywhere around here and I am very disappointed about it.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is all style and no substance. The movie is a sequel to 2008’s The Strangers, which starred a group of masked killers that toy with and slowly murder a family over the course of a night. It had decent style, but it certainly had some substance. There was something particularly depraved about it that it made it believable. A decade later the movie studios behind this sequel have decided to try and set The Strangers as a franchise with limited success.
The premise of the movie is exceptionally simple and there is practically no character development. A “typical” American family is heading up into a rural vacation area on the way to bringing their daughter to a boarding school for degenerates. She resents them for it and that’s about it. Nothing is learned about the family practically at all. The son likes baseball. You never find out what the daughter did that was so terrible she needs to be sent away. Nothing.
Shortly after arriving Kinsey (Bailee Madison) storms off and her brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) is told to go find her and bring her back to the trailer they are staying in for the night. On the way there they stumble across their Aunt and Uncle’s place with an open front door. They hear a rumbling from behind a door and they open it to discover a German Shepherd inside who promptly runs off. The Aunt and Uncle have been massacred and mutilated. Then the mayhem begins as the group of killers begin to stalk the family.
There is an 80s soundtrack, lots of neon, and some sound distortion effects that try and give the movie some panache. It largely doesn’t work. The family makes such terrible decisions that it was like watching the opening of Scary Movie and choosing the banana instead of the gun all over again. I can not possibly emphasize how bad the decision making is. Imagine you dropped a nickle into a food processor and left it on while you tried to get it out. That would be about the level the movie operates on. There are also some plot points that make no sense. Not a scrap. A car is rear ended and then won’t start. Several characters are badly injured and manage to pull off incredible feats. It doesn’t make sense. The other big problem is that it was always clear in the original that the murderers were just people. In order to try and make this a horror franchise they have made them superhuman which butchers the end of the movie with an implied sequel. Of course if it doesn’t make enough they can always spin it a different way, but when the worldwide box office receipts show up we’ll see if we’ll be watching The Strangers 3 some time in 2019.
In the movie’s defense I was never bored during the brief running time. But, it just wasn’t very coherent and at times was frustrating to watch. There is a sketch of a good movie there, but it does not come together. Skip it.
Tomorrow’s Movie: Pacific Rim (2013)