The Strangers (2008)
Plotline: A couple returns to the cabin they've rented for the weekend, only to have some young woman scare them in the middle of the night by knocking on the door in search of some unknown friend. This is only the beginning. Soon three different masked figures begin to torment the couple from outside (and inside) their cabin.
Scariness factor: The first 30 minutes of this movie (all "boring back-story" aside) were some of the tensest moments I've seen in a new horror film in a LONG time. And the first time you see one of the masked figures SCARED THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME, no lie. It was so well-done and subtle and goddamn fricking spooky.
Gross-Out Factor: There are only two major gross-out scenes, and honestly--they don't show all that much. I can't speak for the unrated version though.
Complaints: My big big big complaint with this movie are the shots of the spooky masked figures where the action of the figures seems to benefit no one other than the viewer. If you don't quite get what I mean, I'm speaking of the moments where one of the victims is unaware that one of the masked figures has walked into view somewhere behind them and yet the masked figure never follows through with any actions that would REQUIRE them walking into the scene in such a way, other than to spook the viewer out. I mean, why would a masked figure, who is trying to torment one of the victims, take the time appear behind them about 50 feet away without ever making their appearance known to the victim and without ever DOING anything else that really EXPLAINS why (outside of the fact that it spooks the viewer out) the masked figure even took the time to walk over there? Also disappointing was the ending. [spoiler alert] The movie would have been infinitely more interesting if they would've ended it MY way, which would've been that the masked tormenters vanish without a trace in the morning, never killing the two victims, and leaving the victims haunted with the knowledge that they killed their own friend when it wasn't necessary since their tormenters just wanted to scare the shit out of them and had no plans to kill them in the first place. [/end spoiler alert]
High Points: Holy crap, the first time they show a masked figure: I swear to god my heart skipped a beat. It was so damn subtle and spooky. The beginning of this movie houses most of the high points. The spookiness of this movie is not from any of the actual violence or chase-scenes that take place. It's from all the moments leading up to these things: the pounding on the doors and the anticipation and the not-knowing what's going on. Once the victims and the masked tormenters meet, it's not quite as scary anymore. But the first 30 minutes or so: good good stuff.
Overall: I'm torn. I thought it was fantastically creepy at the beginning, but the rest was kind of meh. Well-worth sitting through the first 30 minutes though. And although N-A insisted afterwards that the movie was dumb and unscary, he apparently forgot that he spent the first 30 minutes muttering threats at me for making him watch such a freaky movie and hiding his face behind a blanket.
Grade: First 30 minutes: A, Rest of the movie: B