May 30, 2008

The Strangers (2008)


After what seemed like an eternity for this movie to get to the theatres it was difficult to hide the feeling that I would be disappointed it. That is so unfortunately so often the case. However, I tried to keep my mind open and let the actions on the screen do their best, despite having a promotional campaign that seemed intent on spoiling the movie for everyone, unless of course you like that sort of thing.

Things didn't start off too well though, nothing to do with the movie though, as three idiots decided to join the movie after about 10 minutes, then proceed to talk, move about and generally piss me off. Bear in mind this was a midday showing and, aside from the three evil monkeys, there were only five other respectful patrons watching the movie. Maybe one day I will learn that whatever time I choose to go to the theatre there will always be the odd fucknut there that doesn't care about other people wanting to watch the movie.

Anyway, before I go off on a tangent, i'll get back to The Strangers. Starting off with an "Inspired by true events" voiceover, which if you think about it could perfectly make sense in context to the plot, although I think it was just another line of bullshit from the marketing folks. Yes, people do get attacked in their homes, so lets generalize for a second shall we.... Right, after this we join Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) as they are returning from a wedding to James' family's summer home, which is in the ass-end of nowhere. Right off you know that something is amiss between the couple, a device used in the similarish Vacancy, but as of yet we don't quite know what it is.

They arrive at their destination and, after an awkward few minutes or so and a surprise vistor later, Kristen realizes she is out of smokes. So, of course, James pops out to get her some, even though it is four in the morning. Mind you, time has no relevance when you need a smoke, of that I can attest to.

Whilst out the fun and games start for Kristen, as there is a knocking at the door, or should I say banging, as that would be more appropriate. The night will only get more sinister from here on in for Kristen and James, once he eventually gets back.

The first thing I will say about The Strangers is that if you didn't like the Ils (Them), which is another home invasion movie, or found it too slow, chances are you won't like this as it moves along at a fairly slow pace throughout. Obviously it picks up towards the latter stages, but this is more a movie that is reliant on the slowburn, building the tension and slowly letting it unravel. I thought it worked quite well though, the sense of dread, accompanied by some great jump scenes and genuine chills all came together to give a great atmosphere. Nothing is rushed here, there's no fast editing, no real flashy effects just a drawn out uncomfortable hour and a half.

Now, whilst the home invasion premise is nothing new, and much about this movie isn't particularly original, there are two solid central performance from Tyler and Speedman that kept my attention. Tyler in particular did a great job conveying her sense of fear and panic at the situation. Speedman was a little less impressive, but a solid enough performance nonetheless. The real stars though are the strangers themselves; they are just creepy sonsabitches. Obviously this is helped immensley by the situations the writer and director puts these characters in; a shot of one of them in the background (the picture in the poster works much better on film), an over the shoulder shot that will have you holding your breath, these are creepy villians.

Unfortunately the flaws with this movie try their hardest to outweigh and nulify the good points. A combination of a poor marketing which reveals too much, a spoiling opening scene and a seen-it-before storyline really had this movie testing my patience to a certain degree. This should have been the sort of movie in which I was wondering what the hell is going on and why? Alas it won't take a genius to know all the answers before they are revealed to us.

Fuck, this was a very promising flick, and I did enjoy many aspects of it, but I really think the filmmakers hurt themselves here. I will give this a recommendation, with a certain element of caution though, as the atmosphere was tense, the strangers were cool and Liv Tyler is hot. This is one movie that will divide audiences, of that I am quite sure.

Rating 2.5 (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton

10 comments:

HORROR MOVIE LOVER said...

GREAT REVIEW MY FRIEND, I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS, JUST BECAUSE I LIKE THESE TYPE OF FILMS AND I AM FROM CA. WHICH YES THE WHOLE TRUE STORY ASPECT COMES INTO VIEW, IT'S BASED ON SOME WHAT ON THE KEDDIE CALIFORNIA MURDERS.

On April 11, 1981, at the Keddie Resort, three grisly murders were committed in cabin #28. Glenna Sharp, 36, her 15 year old son John and 17 year old family friend Dana Wingate were bludgeoned and stabbed by assailants still unidentified. Sharp's 13 year old daughter Tina was missing from the scene when the bodies were discovered by 14 year old Sheila Sharp the following morning. Sheila had been spending the night with a friend. Glenna Sharp's two youngest boys and another boy, toddlers at the time, had been spared and were found safe in another room of the cabin. Ultimately, Tina Sharp's remains were discovered three years later when a bottle digger found parts of her remains 95 miles away near a water fall. In the years following the murders the Keddie Resort fell into disrepair and most buildings were condemned. Many around the area talked of the cabin being haunted. Cabin #28 was eventually razed in the summer of 2004, either to deter ghost hunters or to make way for a new generation of Keddie Resort buildings. The case remains unsolved. Some say that the site is still haunted and that the killers (despite being elderly) are still rampant in the area.

SO YEAH THEY TAKE THE BASIC STRANGER KILLING IN THE HOUSE ADD A BUNCH OF STUFF AND RE-WRITE THE WHOLE PLOT. BUT LIKE I SAY I AM A FAN OF THESE TYPE OF FILMS, KILLERS RUNNING IN THE HOUSE CAUSING CRAZY ASS STUFF.

JD said...

I thought the first half was promising, but I felt conned by the end of it. Good review!!

Greg B. said...

I really didn't like 'Ils', so if this is anything like that (the payoff wasn't worth the investment), then I'll pass. The trailer is really effective. It made my wife, who doesn't watch horror movies, want to see it.

Missing6 said...

You were a bit kinder than Roger Ebert who apparently has no tolernace for any film that is "inspired by true events."

Bearing in mind that this is the director's first film, I'll still probably check it out...now the issue is cheap show or Netflix.

Missing6 said...

Awesome...I was pretty happy to read that little article about the Keddie Resorts. Thanks for adding that.

Pain said...

Yep, this one will definitely divide audiences...

Valentine Viscera said...

i heard nothing but shit from everyone about this film. and i was REALLY excited about it.
it seemed just the type of movie that i would enjoy.
but if jude felton only gave it 2.5 stars, i dont have high hopes.
you my friend are a trooper for going out to the theaters to see these.
i stay home and WAIT for them to come out on dvd because i can't stand the little assholes talking and crunching and texting their friends behind me.
i can't tell you how many theaters i've been thrown out of for ripping some little teenagers face clean off their skull.
sigh. such is life.

tony said...

Good review, actually i like these kinds of movies means horror movies. the strangers is one of my fav movie. i Watch the strangers movie from this website.

strike said...

The Strangers is a thrilling horror movie about a young couple .After coming back from a wedding reception, Kristen McKay and James Hoyt are disturbed when they hear a knock on their door in the mid-hours of the night. When they opened the door,they seen three masked strangers .Really very interesting movie... I watch the strangers movie last night.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I want to bugger Liv Tyler (as she was when she was 18, not as she is now obviously).