Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: The Strangers

The Strangers (2008)
Genre: Horror
Format: Blu-ray
Director: Bryan Bertino

It is not often that you get to see some truly disturbing piece of cinematic work these days. Scary and gory are easier to deliver - for the most part, all you need are some dark scenes, frequent cheap jump moments, and an extra bucket of fake blood. As a matter of fact, we are very spoiled when it comes to the latter, thanks to the continuously improving yearly installment of the Saw films. Now truly evil, disturbing films don't come knocking on your local theater doors or your HDTV screen so easily and that is why even though it is heavily flawed, The Strangers is an important piece of modern cinematic horror.

The setup is simple. A young couple, played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, is spending the night at a secluded home after a big argument. Soon, they discover that tending to their sensitive emotional needs is the least important thing in their lives when three masked strangers start terrorizing them. Though the movie is not an official remake of the terrible Ils, it is apparent where writer/director Bryan Bertino got his inspiration from. The movie begins with a slow character building between the two lovers but once the harassment starts, it doesn't stop until its bitter end. Basically, what you have here is a serial killer movie without the body count. You do get the typical hide and seek scenes and several face to face encounters with the villains. You will soon realize though that these strangers apparently are not interested in finishing things up too quickly. They just love to mentally torture their victims. I am not a big Liv Tyler fan but I must say that this must be her most convincing acting gig so far even though all she did was screaming and crying. It's that defeated, sad facial expressions of hers that really win me over.

Despite some lengthy filler moments and the lack of inventive kills/body count pay-offs you would normally expect from your typical slasher flick, the shockingly bleak climax of the film is what really defines the entire experience. It's easy to make people flinch at the sight of gore but when you can actually make people do that while hurting them emotionally at the same time, you know that you've crossed that line that shouldn't be crossed. Many people will no doubt hate the fact that these killers have no real motif for killing and how nonchalant the whole thing becomes towards the end. Freddy Krueger kills teens in their nightmares because he was child murderer in life who wanted to continue his work in death. Jason Vorhees has an Oedipus complex - 'nuff said. Michael Myers is obviously a sexually repressed psychopath. What about the strangers in this movie? They like to torture and kill apparently but what is their true motivation? The answer to that is purposely hidden from the audience's views. All we know is that their victims would never see them coming once they have locked on to their targets. People take the comfort in knowing and not many knows how to carry themselves when that comfort is taken away. Life is full of uncertainties and randomness, that's the brutal truth. What a brilliant concept for a film. 1 point deduction for unwilling to go all the way at the very end.

RATING: 4 out of 5


Blake said...

lol, I don't think me and you should every watch movies together.

I very much disliked this movie.Why? Far too many reason. I just didn't.

Again, I enjoy the different light that you put the movie in has oppose to the mud googles that I was wearing.

Loner Gamer said...

True, we can't all like the same movies :) Still, some cinematic greatness can transcend across all manner of audiences.

I'm very interested to know the names of horror movies that you consider to be successful. I am always looking for a good horror movie to watch - you never know, I may have missed some of these titles you may name ^_^

Anonymous 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.