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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.02%
Worth A Look52.63%
Average: 7.02%
Pretty Bad: 19.3%
Total Crap: 14.04%

5 reviews, 27 user ratings

Strangers, The
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by brianorndorf

"The suspense is killing me"
1 stars

“The Strangers” answers the question: could a movie be made where nothing actually happens? A breathtakingly boring motion picture, “Strangers” proves a filmmaker needs more than spooky masked killers and brain-dead protagonists to craft a successful suspense offering.

Returning home late one night after some painful relationship matters are revealed at a wedding, Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) quietly go about their business as emotional ice forms between them. When three masked strangers arrive at the home, they begin to psychologically terrorize the couple, who search for areas to hide from the torment. When the acts soon become violent, Kristen and James find there’s no escape from these faceless aggressors and fear what anguish the morning will bring.

“Strangers” is 80 minutes of screen stillness; a suspense picture powered by directorial incompetence and behavioral idiocy. Filmmaker Bryan Bertino seems determined to evoke John Carpenter’s “Halloween” with this riff on a Mansonesque home invasion, and he hands himself some powerful visual tools by placing unsettling masks on the killers and playing with shadowy composition. However, these are only fragments of “Strangers,” with the rest of the picture lost to pure absurdity.

Even for a pseudo-horror film, “Strangers” has little regard for logic. I can swallow massive acts of stupidity as long as the nonsense is pulled off with some juicy confidence. “Strangers” lacks a crucial genre grace, asking the audience to sit through 80 minutes of two actors frantic to make a lousy script feel realistic. Kristen and James don’t appear to truly panic, call the cops, or run like hell out of the house and never look back. No, they would rather spend time staring into the darkness with evil around every corner, reenter previously established hives of doom like total boobs, and bumble every chance for survival by simply allowing the villains free reign around their wide open property. Bertino doesn’t possess the skill to fashion a suffocating bubble of tension that would magically erase this buffet of pure illogic, which makes “Strangers” a maddening movie to consume.

“Strangers” is meant to toy with the audience, baiting them with continuous scenes of glacial stalking and Liv Tyler bursting into quivering hysterics. The picture is mean and violent, but it’s oddly harmless; a sensation crystallized by Bertino’s annoying employment of jump scares and deafening sound effects. The filmmaker routinely picks insulting, tiresome genre mechanics over anything remotely creative, blowing through any hint of suspense in the first five minutes of the movie. The rest of the picture falls asleep, failing to stir up any excitement or sympathy for these one-note victim puppets and their pea-brained ideas for survival.

I suppose what’s most insulting about this wretched picture isn’t the overall repetition (masked killer enters room, Tyler cries: lather, rinse, repeat), the awe-inspiring creative bankruptcy, or the “shocker” ending that screams absolute filmmaking desperation; the real crime committed here is how Bertino wants the audience to buy this tale as fact, opening the movie with a short title crawl explaining the “history” of the crime we’re about to witness. Reality? Really? In the same film where every horror cliché is present and accounted for? I think a devastating, real-world crime spree deserves more respect than this pile of tasteless genre garbage is capable of producing.

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originally posted: 06/01/08 12:18:52
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell familiar but frighting the 3 villians were chilling & they got away 4 stars
1/02/14 Martin Mostly boring. Dumb characters. Relied too much on tired horror tropes. 2 stars
10/23/12 Stephanie Can't look out the window at night. 4 stars
9/06/12 Albert It's not a rip-off of "Ils". Let's clear that up. Truly frightening! 5 stars
12/07/10 car scary and suspenful and liv tyler perf was good, but it overall dull and confusing. 3 stars
10/29/10 millersxing frustrating and claustrophobic. not so much frightening as infuriating. 3 stars
6/01/10 User Name The characters are thin and the plot is almost nonexistent, but there are creepy moments. 2 stars
8/17/09 vesta tense,unsettling and truly disturbing 4 stars
8/03/09 David A. Mostly gore/action horror, but the intruder's mask makes him spooky--nice touch. 4 stars
7/02/09 art A NIFTY HORROR FILM! 5 stars
5/07/09 mr.mike Left me with mixed reaction , I may have to watch it again. 4 stars
4/02/09 Raul Valdez Jr unmerficul, evil, freaky, and disturbing and the best part ITS PURE HORROR 4 stars
12/20/08 Scott Didnt like the ending but was truely terrifying 4 stars
11/15/08 VMANIC1 Unknown killers with unknown motives. Pointless and inconclusive movie. 2 stars
10/13/08 Lee pointless movie 1 stars
7/25/08 Alice Good acting, great suspense, Liv is a delight, great to see a real woman for a change. 4 stars
7/06/08 James Liked it, but was let down by the ending 3 stars
6/06/08 Manuel Gerlach Not special. Sometimes scary, but bad story... 3 stars
6/06/08 Ming K Worst film of the year, the film does not explain anything for the killing... 5 stars
6/02/08 Robert Good acting & very suspenseful. Enjoyed it a lot 4 stars
6/02/08 Obi Wan Terrifying! So much tension! Frightening! 4 stars
6/02/08 George Barksdale Another unscary movie, OK acting 2 stars
6/01/08 Michael Charlonne Great feature overall. Hope this film does well. Can't wait for the DVD w/ bonus features. 4 stars
6/01/08 Quigley Truly, deeply scary. One of the most well-crafted horror films in a very long time. 5 stars
6/01/08 ahnold Acting good. Story okay, but pretty much what we've seen before. 4 stars
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  30-May-2008 (R)
  DVD: 21-Oct-2008


  DVD: 21-Oct-2008

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Bryan Bertino

Written by
  Bryan Bertino

  Liv Tyler
  Scott Speedman
  Gemma Ward
  Kip Weeks
  Laura Margolis
  Glenn Howerton

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