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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

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Strangers, The
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by William Goss

"Damned If I Do..."
4 stars

It’s a ritual of romance. He gets down on one knee. She puts her hands over her mouth. He proposes… And she refuses.

They drive home. Not a word.

They walk in the door. He begins to pick apart the elaborate arrangement of candles here, champagne there, and rose petals strewn all about. She eventually apologizes, and they soon proceed to make up, the carnal way. That is, until five past four, when there’s a knock on the door, after which a masked trio of highly capable and coordinated individuals proceeds to make the young couple’s arguably already hellish night even more explicitly so.

Writer-director Bryan Bertino may still succumb to sacrificing the feasible for the frightening throughout The Strangers – our spooks are quicker and quieter than that “inspired by true events” prologue may lead the most gullible ticket buyers to believe – but he knows how chilling space and silence can be when employed well. (In all fairness, the man deserves credit for acknowledging that the select use of country tunes can itself strike fear in the hearts of many men.) Of no small help are the leads: Scott Speedman (the Underworld films) is a credible everyman who is never above leaving his girlfriend alone in the house as he ventures out to save the butts of both himself and his lovely, and as said lovely, Liv Tyler handles a simplistic victim role with a grateful absence of shrillness and stupidity. Sure, logic slips as it very much tends to do in this genre, but at least the prey isn’t positively begging for a bludgeoning for a change.

Crafting a relatively well-lit environment out of the rural enough family home of our shunned fiancé and letting the proceedings unfold in something resembling real time (if cruelly close to Valentine’s Day), Bertino allows the tension to build to a commendable degree in the age where quick cuts and loud noises are all too often substituted for suspense; the result is along the lines of, and roughly on par with, the likes of last year’s Vacancy and Them. Save for a final shot that alone reeks of long-rumored post-production tinkering by studio hands, this is about as capable a horror debut as one can expect when Prom Night rakes it in as Saw V lurks on the horizon.

Perhaps, though, that title refers not just to the uninvited visitors laying siege, but also the wife-to-be who didn’t say “yes” or the husband-to-be who only said he knew how to wield a shotgun or the couple that was all too willing to indulge in pre-marital coitus. The surroundings boast rustic décor – a truck, a radio, a swing set, a turntable – all of which seem to suggest a more traditional time, with more wholesome values, where women wearing plastic masks of happiness and complacency is par for the course. Bring it home with the Mormon children who finds themselves greeting the aftermath with pamphlets in hand that only visibly tout two words – “Christian Living” – and one begins to wonder if the very institution of marriage isn’t punishing our victims for not adhering to societal norms.

All this ado over “I do” may make the prospect of “’til death do us part” sound more and more tempting; however, those who say “I don’t” find themselves sent crawling back to the home life proper, left bloodied and bruised and begging for wedded bliss.

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originally posted: 05/31/08 13:55:21
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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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