Tuesday, July 5, 2011

150 Days of Halloween: The Strangers

Back to home invasion, this time an American film with the laughably misleading claim to be based on true events. I hate that line in movies pretty often, movies that are actually based on true events don't bother with that line. The Kings Speech didn't waste its breath on that line, because its legitimately a dramatization of actual events. Sure it changed some things, but the general story is true, unlike with The Strangers. This movie claims to be based on true events, when in reality the director recalls that one time, in his youth, some people knocked on his door. The next day people realized that whenever someone didn't answer the door, they robbed the house.

So, when you get down to it, this is the opposite of a true story. In this version of the events, when someone answers the door they get killed and nothing gets stolen. That's some integrity to the craft right there, that line is only included to market and drive ticket sales. Much like the characters of the film, its staggeringly stupid.

"If you weren't doorknob level stupid, this movie would be about 25 minutes long."
That's right, this is one of those horror movies. If anyone halfway between intelligent were in the situation presented in the film, it just wouldn't have happened. When people believe the home they are in is being broken into, they don't plug the phone into the charger and then leave the room so the killers can take it. When your girlfriend is hysterical and tells you people are trying to break in, you don't dismiss her, you call the police. If you arrive at your friends house and a gunshot shatters your windshield, you don't get out of the car and meander into the clearly ransacked home.
Looks pretty suspenseful huh? Well this shot is only from the trailer, doesn't happen in the movie. Surprise!
When a movie is laughably campy, stupid protagonists can be fun, you shout at them and wait for them to die. Its the realm of high body count horror, the kind of movies that are improved with crowds and light substance abuse. If you want to make a suspenseful movie, then you don't want us to think your cast is so unbelievably stupid that we think they deserve to die. When we are rooting for the killers because the cast has a combined IQ of wood, you dropped the writing ball.

This pairs incredibly poorly with the nigh magical antagonists. While our heroes are all apparently recent recipients of lobotomies and leg hobbling, our killers are professors at the local ninja college. They know exactly where the heroes are at all times, can go unseen and silent whenever they want, can break into any part of the house with ease undetected, and can teleport anywhere they need to be. Watching this movie is like watching wizards determined to slowly terrorize and kill some baby mice. Baby mice that are missing two legs. Also the mice are stupid.

THRILL! At people walking and/or crawling.
What this amounts to is a movie that manages to disperse its own tension building constantly. Its clear early into the arrival of the killers that they are basically each a psychopathic version of Batman looking to toy with a room of children. You already don't care about the characters, which is criminal with this movie because the first half hour is us watching the couple try to cope with an emotional falling out. They spend one third of the movie on character development, turn them into walking talking bricks once the tension starts, and give us super human killers. You stop caring and start waiting for the end.

So, half an hour of two people being moody. about forty-five minutes of lions hunting headless chickens, five minutes of two people tied to chairs being stabbed, five minutes of kids finding the house and a sequel setup, and a jump scare at the end to really nail home the sequel thing. I just saves you and hour and a half of your life. Jump to the 45 minute mark for the stupidest string of decisions in movies. Two more minutes and about thirty seconds later to watch Dennis from Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia get shot in the face with a shotgun. Now you have the highlights of the movie too!

"Did he say I get shot? IN MY FACE?! No way man! I'm way to good looking for that."
To be fair and somewhat nice, the cinematography is well done. Shots are creepy and suspenseful, and could have been truly tense had the writing been willing to let it. Sound design is frightening where it should be, and music is used to good effect thanks to a record player. Lastly the dialogue isn't forced, and aside from the rest of the writing turning these people into brainless clods, is well done. That's about it though. Spare yourself the pain and watch something else.

Tomorrow we get Repulsion, by Roman Polanski. Thank goodness for that, because after this I need a non-stupid movie. As always, for the list of future movies and links to previous reviews, check out The 150 Days of Halloween schedule.


  1. Love the review, you tell it like it is, a piece of maggot ridden garbage.

    Based on a true story PFFFT I lol'd

  2. Haha great review. Your writing style is very sharp.

    our killers are professors at the local ninja college <--- best part lol.

  3. The Strangers tell you the truth I did not like this movie at all.

  4. Totally agree, I couldn't even make it through to the end. Just Bad.

  5. The movie while enjoyable was rather disappointing. I did enjoy the tension they built, but I thought The Collector did the cat and mouse better.

  6. Liv Tyler! no thanks :D dunno why I can't stand her.

  7. i found this movie to be hilarious rather than creepy haha