"The Strangers": ETF Review

Updated on April 23, 2018

Today we are going back to the night of that faithful wedding reception and reliving the nightmare of Kristen McKay and James Hoyt as the Hoyt's peaceful family summer home was descended upon by the Strangers. This film was directed by Brian Bertino and stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.

When this film originally came out, I had the privilege of seeing it on the big screen, and it was a breath of fresh air for the horror genre. While there were some great horror films in 2008, I remember this one standing out quite prominently that year. Not because it brought anything really new to the table, but because of the choices made in the film making itself.

Brian Bertino chose to do this film without a traditional score. Instead, he used the tension of the moment, allowing the situations in the film and the audio mix to create the melody of the piece. And it was incredible. This film still has one of the better sound works that I have ever heard. The audio creates a perfect atmosphere of tension and dread, sucking you right into this night with these characters.

Another choice Bertino made was to go the old Texas Chainsaw route and portray this film as though it was a real event in history. From what I understand, he based the film on an experience he had as a child, where someone came to his front door while he was home alone. They asked for someone that didn't live there. He later found out that if no one had answered, their house would have been burglarized. That's the only real truth to the matter.

It was a brilliant choice, because when most people see that title card at the beginning of a film that reads, "Based on actual events," they tend to get much more emotionally involved in a piece.

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Sadly, I am now desensitized to all of that and find myself adding the word loosely to those claims. Everything in this film is very well grounded in reality. Unlike a lot of horror films, where the deaths are far to outlandish and over the top, this film keeps everything extremely realistic.

It delivers three powerfully chilling antagonists, and the concept behind them is horrifying. When they are asked why they were doing this, the doll-faced girl simply says, "Because you were home." It's the most spine tingling moment and really makes you audibly say what the hell! The acting in this film was perfect. Tyler and Speedman did a fantastic job playing these two characters, bringing a very real distress and fear to their performances.

My one gripe about the film is the choice of camera style. They decided to go with a very handheld style, which in some instances felt a bit too jittery for a film where there isn't a lot of moving around or traveling. While it does make the events feel much more real, and grounds it as if you are actually there with these people, I feel like maybe a more traditional shooting style would have made it a bit better. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong.

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Overall, I give The Strangers a B.

This is a delightfully creepy horror experience that I honestly wish I could see in theaters again. There was something about watching this film with full theatrical sound that made it that much more powerful. Unless you go in with full volume, home video doesn't do it the justice it deserves. If you haven't seen this one yet, I would definitely check it out.

Care to Check this film out for yourself?

© 2018 Oliver Buckley


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