Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Strangers

The Strangers - poster finalCinema Monolith: 4/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 6.1/10
The Arizona Republic: **** out of 5

Released on May 30, 2008
Rated R
86 minutes

Directed by Bryan Bertino

Written by Brian Bertino

Cast: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Kip Weeks, Gemma Ward, Laura Margolis, Glenn Howerton, Alex Fisher, Peter Clayton-Luce, Jordan Del Spina (voice)

The film’s chilling one-sheet was enough to hook me: a trio of masked somebodies looming over a man and woman tied to chairs, accompanied by the tag line Because you were home. Simple but effective. The same could be said for the film itself, which delivered on the poster’s ominous tone and home invasion nightmare, but what I like to see—nay, demand to see—in films such as this, where rotten creeps do horrible things to innocent people, is for the rotten creeps to get their just rewards in the end.

Perhaps even violently so, depending on the severity of their actions. But here, that wasn’t to be: the three intruders in The Strangers antagonized and terrorized the young couple—Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler—throughout the course of a night, but not once were these smug assailants punished for their actions. And for me, that was an oversight that could not be forgiven.

For the most part, this was a typical movie of the genre, but it took a while for me to figure out what genre. Ghost story? Psychological thriller? Modern-day Straw Dogs? I liked the heavy atmosphere and constant tension, and it was nice to experience scares that came from a sense of dread instead of telegraphed jolts, but in my eyes most everything else had been done before.

And I couldn’t help but think, as I always do, that there were too many easy ways for the protagonists to get out of their situations, and far too many instances of wanton mental density on their part. Killers inside? Then go outside and run for help. Killers outside? Then stay inside with your pump-action shotgun and eighty shells and shoot any damn thing that moves.

But then, if they’d followed my logic, I guess it would’ve been a fairly short and pointless film, which it mostly was anyway. And like I’d done with the French horror offering Them and the recently-released The Purge, I kept waiting for the two leads to finally get fed up and administer some savage revenge on these jerks, but that never happened, which was unfortunate, because it might’ve led to a more satisfying ending, and an overall better film.  (4/10)

The Strangers

4 comments on “The Strangers

  1. vinnieh

    Excellent post, I was creeped out when the record began to skip.


    • Todd Benefiel

      Thanks for checking it out, Vinnie! Yeah, there were quite a few chills throughout the film, along with the skipping record player moment…like when one of the masked intruders would suddenly be seen in the background of a scene, which gave me the creeps. That was probably the one aspect of the film I really liked: the quiet, tension-filled visuals.


  2. Tyson Carter

    Man was I let down with this. So many stupid decisions, and mind reading killers always piss me off. Knowing exactly where people are at all times……….

    Annoyingly, my review of this is my all time #1 read post. Seems to get found on Google regularly and always gets viewed. Would rather it was a film I made a lot of effort reviewing and actually liked, but those the breaks! 🙂


    • Todd Benefiel

      Well, I agree with you there, Mister Carter: too many decisions that completely lacked everyday common sense. And do you want to know what my most-visited review is, and is found via a Google search every day? Yes, The Stepmother.


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