THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT
Director: Johannes Roberts
Year of release: 2018
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both I would think when released.
Tagline: "Let us prey".
Also known as: The Strangers part 2
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: A delayed sequel to the 2008 home invasion style film The Strangers, this addition acts as a stand alone piece and doesn't require any prior knowledge of the original. The story follows parents Mike and Cindy who are having trouble with their rebellious daughter Kinsey. So much trouble in fact that we learn that Kinsey is being packed off to a boarding school which is a last resort to try and straighten her out. Prior to her leaving and after picking up older brother Luke they all set off to visit a trailer park vacation site owned by the kids aunt and uncle to try and unwind and spend some time together as a family. Arriving a bit later than planned after dark to their surprise they find the place deserted. They settle into their trailer for the night regardless but after an unhappy Kinsey storms off into the night it is quickly realised that bigger issues are at hand other than their domestic problems. A trio of masked killers are already on site and are looking to stalk and murder the family for fun.
Good points: Although this is a stand alone film I liked how they included some references to the original such as the words written on the mirror (or perhaps it was a window), the girl knocking on the door and the swings seen in motion in the night with it being clear the killers had been using them moments before. I also liked how the ending was inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre but despite the similar sequence of events they put there own spin on it and the outcome was different.
The trailer park is a good location to stage the action. I felt a little bit as if it had that traditional slasher summer camp vibe to it but in a different way and without the woods. The various trailers reminded me of cabins and I thought they were well utilised as was the swimming pool and the tunnel in the play area. There was actually more scope to further utilise the location I thought and it could have been showcased even more than it was. Would have been nice for example to have seen a tennis court as seen in Blood Rage or a pool hall or an amusement arcade.
The family of four in peril are very good indeed in particular the main characters of the teenage children Luke and Kinsey. They are easy to root for, likeable despite their flaws and the brother sister relationship comes across as very genuine. The acting from the pair was also very good I thought especially when they were afraid or in danger. The parents are good as well in a more limited role but it is the kids that deservedly take center stage.
The masks look cool for the three maniacs and definitely adds to the menacing vibe they project. The male killer in particular looks great drawing inspiration from such films as The Town that Dreaded Sundown, Friday the 13th part 2 and Dark Night of the Scarecrow.
The film also boasts a very good 80's pop soundtrack featuring the likes of Kim Wilde, Tiffany and Bonnie Tyler. Doesn't sound like the kind of music you would generally associate with a slasher I know but it works really well here.
Bad Points: There is no motive or reason given as to why the killers target the family. Not that there has to be a reason as sometimes people of a sadistic homicidal nature kill their victims randomly and for no good reason so of course it happens in real life. Personally in films though I always prefer it when there is more of a neat explanation for what we see with reasoning and motives clearly explained and established. I don't usually like it as much when the killers reasoning isn't explained at all. A lot of people probably won't care about this and may even find it more scary if there is no motive but for me as the film is lacking in this area it is a small negative.
Something else that I felt was underutilised in the film was the dog belonging to the aunt and uncle. It seemed weird to me that the dog didn't seem to turn a hair near the start when the killer had made it into the trailer just before lying down in the bed. Later on when the kids released it from the bedroom it ran off never to be seen again. I was hopeful it may show up again later to help in some way but as it didn't they needn't have bothered to include it at all.
Spoiler: I felt that the woman killer was treated as a bit of an afterthought and didn't get as much screentime as the others. It was probably the same in the original as well but was more noticeable here. When she did finally get a prolonged appearance she ended up being dispatched all too easily. I felt as if the film could have done with one or two more kills with random people unconnected to the family in the same way that the sheriff was used. If doing this one of the extra kills could have gone to the woman killer to give her more of a purpose.
Spoiler: The last set piece with the male killer in the burning vehicle was good. It reminded me a bit of Radiohead's Karma Police music video though despite being enjoyable it was very unrealistic. Even if the man himself survived then surely the truck wouldn't still be capable of starting up after the explosion?
Verdict: I thought this was a good slasher film that was certainly exciting in places with some edge of your seat action and set pieces. The killers themselves looked good and the location of the trailer park left me wanting more. The film did feel slightly too short for me and I think it could have done with another interruption and then subsequent murder of a minor character outside the family like with the sheriff. One of the killers was also a bit underused. Still good though and for me I felt this was an improvement on the 2008 original.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Aunt: Killed off camera.
2) Uncle: Killed off camera, bloody disfigured body later found by Luke and Kinsey.
3) Cindy: Stabbed multiple times by the girl killer.
4) Mike: Injured in car crash and then skewered in the throat by the male killer with what I think was a screwdriver.
5) Woman Killer: Hit with golf club and then repeatedly stabbed by Luke.
6) Police sheriff: Throat cut by the girl killer.
7) Girl Killer: Shot twice by Kinsey with a shotgun.
8) Male killer: Burnt in explosion and then hit in the head with a bat by Kinsey which led to him falling out of the back of a truck.