Just to clear things up before I get started. This movie is not a sequel to MEET THE PARENTS or MEET THE FOCKERS. THE STRANGERS is a horror slash thriller. I am not quite sure why the slash, but “the general public” thinks that this movie contains some spooky unexplainable beings doing evil stuff (and by evil stuff we mean killing people). In my book this movie would be filed under thriller, but I will get to that in just a moment.
The story of THE STRANGERS focus on James Hoyt, played by Scott Speedman – who is also known as Michal Corvin from UNDERWORLD – and Kristen McKay, played by the overly emotional Liv Tyler. The couple returns from a wedding reception to stay at a romantic isolated vacation house – feel the clichés stacking up as I am writing this – for some one on one time with each other. Now I know it is a men’s fantasy to stay somewhere beautiful and isolated so you can be all romantic with your girl and have non-stop sex.
Focus on the word ‘fantasy’ here for a sec, because we all know this ain’t never gonna happen. And guess what? It ain’t happening in THE STRANGERS. For some reason the romantic trip starts in a fight. Scott and Kristen are not on speaking terms. Somehow Scott manages to persuade Kristen with the lovely things he had done for her at the vacation house and we get to see Liv Tyler her panties being pulled down, when this lovely scene gets interrupted by banging on the door.
We open the door and see the first ‘Stranger’ who asks whether or not Tamara is home. The answer is a ‘no’ and we hear from this little girl that she will see them later. From this point on the movie becomes scary as hell. To refer to my introduction, this movie is not a horror movie, the little girl you see – why are it always little girls? – is not a ghost, the strangers are all real people.
Soon after the little girl goes away, Scott decides to go out to clear his head. In the meanwhile Kristen gets attacked by the father of ‘The Strangers family’. She manages to survive this, how is still a frickin` puzzle to me, but let’s roll with it. When Scott gets back from releasing some pressure, it becomes a quest for survival. The family consists out of the man and wife and the little girl we met earlier. The relatively short movie (only 85 minutes), keeps the tension and scare factor high and most of us in the theater were crapping different kind of feces during these moments. It is not till the last 15 minutes when somehow the director / writer Bryan Bertino decides to reveal the evildoers and all is lost. The movie becomes just another “we kill because we have some weird reason”-movie. Also some cliché moments were added so a sequel can be made if it turns out okay (big chance though since this movie premiered with THE DARK KNIGHT).
Now not to be cruel on Bryan Bertino, he did a decent job considering this being his first movie. Not to mention getting Liv Tyler to undress on more than one occasion for a low-budget movie is priceless in my opinion. But due to the weak ending and some scenes being poorly acted, this movie becomes just an average scary movie.
The story feels weak but due to the strangers coming on and off the scene at moments they are least expected and them not acting like we are used to in the average scary movie, this keeps things mildly interesting. But when it comes to the acting things just feel unreal. We all know the performance of Liv Tyler (also see review of ‘The Not So Incredible Hulk’) and in this movie it is pretty much the same. She keeps getting scared, keeps doing stuff the average person would not do and she is just plain annoying. Scott Speedman character tries to make Liv Tyler stand out more, but it is in fact his actions, which makes the movie the most plausible. Apparently this movie is based on “true events”, but since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT I just call it bollocks to attract more audience.
This movie is not meant for the cinema, but to be watched with a select group of friends on Halloween in a dark living room area. So Halloween is upon us quite soon, a little more than two months, so this movie should be on your shortlist for then. Do not expect anything fancy, but it is sure to give you some good scares.