In this heart-pounding thriller, young suburban couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) welcome the peace and quiet of a secluded family vacation home — that is, until three masked home invaders make them realize how dangerous isolation can be. Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, the film also stars Australian supermodel Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Glenn Howerton and Laura Margolis.
Strangers hits a high mark for intensity, and suspense. In this day and age of random violence scenarios showing up more in more in film-plots, Strangers does the job it set out to do. I wasn’t sure if it was the brooding reveals of the masked terrorizers or the paranoid feeling that was presented in the camera work that made it more unsettling. In any case, the film succeeds in the same way that scared us back when we were first exposed to the original Halloween.
To summarize, we are joined with young couple James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler). Apparently James proposed and Kristen rejected. Though it came as a surprise to James, it feels like Kristen is just trying to deal with the idea of marriage and not being ready yet. The night which should have been a night to remember was just that, though not the direction that was intended. All is interrupted with a knock on the door, and shortly after mayhem ensues. 3 masked invaders invade the house and play games as they appear and disappear to taunt the couple. Interesting enough never are we given much reason or cause other than pure randomness for the invasion. As the violence increases so does the level of intensity and there ability to play hide and go seek.
Liv Tyler and Speedman are spectacular in there roles as the frightened couple. Although I kept thinking if it were me, I might be a little more aggressive with the house shotgun and not wait so long to get on with it. The invaders progress in their intentions while also getting more comfortable with the act.
Even though this film was released in 2008, it still had somewhat of a classic feel reminiscent of the earlier horror 70’s films such as The Last House on the Left, Hills have Eyes and Halloween. The fact that the invaders eventually take off their masks without revealing their faces was a great choice in keeping the enigmatic de-personalization of the characters. I often found myself thinking of the reports of Manson’s legendary reign of terror and how it could have been played out in the same way. Strangers comes across with cold and brutal realization that will make most folks think twice about leaving doors unlocked or answering a late night caller.
I highly recommend it for its unsettling fright values. Old school veterans will appreciate the simplicity of it combined with clever camera work. Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, I’ll be anticipating more of his work. With the release of several summer horror fright offerings, Strangers stands out as one of the better releases.