Sunday, June 08, 2008

REVIEW: The Strangers

The Strangers

Year: 2008
Director: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Gemma Ward
Distributor: Rogue Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

Whenever a movie comes out with a tag line mentioning that its based on true events, alot of people tune in. This is somewhat the case with The Strangers. The movie opened last Friday and managed to bring in $20 million on its opening weekend. Now by the look of its trailer, you could think its just another teen horror movie when in fact, it really isn't. Sure its a horror film, but its not your average Saw/Scream type movie. Instead, it actually looks like its got a good concept to use to bring in people to watch the film. I usually don't watch alot of horror movies because its hard for me to get scared. Sure I might jump out of my seat one or two times, but that's about it. I'm never left feeling scared after watching a horror movie. Its just that their was something I liked about the trailer for The Strangers that made me want to watch it.

Plot Outline:
James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) and Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) are a couple undergoing an undefined conflict in the wake of a friend's wedding reception. They stop at their isolated summer home for the night and attempt to work out their problems. Before long, a trio of masked assailants are terrorizing the couple, at first with seemingly pranks like pounding on the front door and escalating to terrifying, life and death extremes.

The movies tag line of being inspired by true events makes this film based on something. Now, I haven't read upon the events that this film is based on so I don't know. As for the story, it starts off pretty fast. We already get sunk into this story when the first couple minutes of the movie are actually the real ending for the film. It than pans around and rewinds to an earlier time in the story where the couple are just arriving in the cabin. The creepy atmosphere and pacing of the story really makes for some scary scenes. Ill admit that I jumped out of my seat a couple times. The story is nicely written and we don't get to see the faces of these strangers. The movie keeps our intentions high and makes it look like its going to be a predictable ending and yet, it throws a curve ball at us. I really liked the ending and thought it was kind of original. The thing that ultimately stops The Strangers from becoming perfect is its origin explanation. We don't get the full details on these psychotic killers so were left with wanting more. The film's running time of 90 minutes also doesn't help. I thought the movie could have been alittle longer. Other than these few nitpicks, I thought this was a good film.

The cast for this film is really good. Scott Speedman plays as James Hoyt and he gives a nice performance. I don't think I have seen him in alot of movies, but hes very believable here. He wasn't annoying or anything and his character didn't do too much stupid things to distract you from the story. Liv Tyler plays as Kristen McKay and shes gives a great performance. Tyler is every bit as believable as Speedman if not better. Her screaming and tears look and sound great. I know she wasn't really giving much of a performance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but she really goes all out here. I was really convinced she was in this situation instead of just acting like it. If she continues in this path, expect for some fine performances in the future. These strangers consist of Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, and Gemma Ward. They do a nice job playing as the criminals in the movie. I cant detect their acting because they don't really say anything in the movie. They did manage to scare me a couple times in their character.

The visual look for the movie is nice and dark. Being a just released film, the movie benefits from a clean source. Their wasn't any grain I detected and the movie has a nice slick look to it. Colors aren't used a whole lot since the movie is mostly shown at night. Blacks tend to look more darker and bolder than some of the other colors. Detail is on the good side with alot of facial expressions being noticeable. Skin tones are on the accurate side and don't look washed up. The director chose to shoot some scenes in a blur so it shows someone is behind someone else. This makes some of the shots alittle bury, but it doesn't get in the way. This isn't something that's going to blow you away, but it does look really good for a small budget horror film like this.

The soundtrack for The Strangers is also positive. The movie doesn't have its own score, but that doesn't mean its needed. The movie has music playing in the first couple of scenes. Its mostly a record track playing old school music, but it certainly goes well with the movie's atmosphere. The music really makes for some intense moments where your not sure whats going to happen next. Their are some times where the volume of the movie is almost non existent and goes really soft. This makes it kind of obvious that something is about to happen. The movie also has some impressive bass work. Typical horror movies don't consist of alot of bass since it really goes to waste, but here its different. The bass in this film helps make the scary moments even more thrilling. Dialogue is pitched pretty high so you can clearly hear everything. There are times where you can literally hear almost anything in the movie. Some of the scary moments rely to much on this.

The Strangers is a thrilling horror movie that breaths some fresh air on this tired genre. The story is nicely paced and is sure to give you a jump out of your seat. I think the casting was good and enjoyed every bit of performance that was shown in this movie. The visual look of the movie is your typical horror type film, but this film tends to look very good in alot of parts. The soundtrack is effective and gives this movie some leg. I liked this film and I hardly watch any horror movies. For people who love movies in this genre are sure to be pleased with The Strangers. Its not perfect, but its pretty damn enjoyable.

Grade: C+

1 comment:

Jaccstev said...

To be honest, The Strangers delivered a lot more than I thought it would. Instead of filling the movie with gore and kills, the film opts for a tense atmosphere and chilling shots. There is no doubt that I was seriously creeped by some parts of the movie, and that is something that hasn't happened to me in a long time by Hollywood horrors.