Monday, October 27, 2008

The Strangers (2008)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

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

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At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just arrived from Netflix. Hoping to watch it this week.

At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lemme know what you think!

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Joanne said...

I had high hopes for this movie. I had watched the trailer on YoutTube and was expecting something completely different.

First of all, I did not like the story revolving around the couple. I wanted more background information. Why did their evening end the way it did? Why did Liv Tyler's character refuse the marriage proposal? Why the heck were they still together after the evening ended? I don't know about you but if someone proposed to me and I said "No!" - I'd want to go away after not linger in a cabin and mope.

I did find the appearance of the one masked character in the distance chilling. And I totally agree with you that they put that scene there just to spook the viewer and not the victim.

I also found the music creepy and the constant skipping of the record player was also a sensory trigger for additional creepiness.

However, the movie went quickly from compelling to downright annoying after the initial first knock at the door. Why the fuck would someone open the door at 4 am when you are all alone?

There were just so many stupid, silly circumstances that annoyed the hell outta me.

I hope they don't come out with a sequel because I won't be watching it. Seems that Liv Tyler's character was partially alive at the end of the movie so chances are there might be a continuation...fart!! :)

My grade: D+

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still haven't gotten around to watching this. The movie has been lying on my coffee table forever. I'm going to really try and watch it this weekend.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I agree greatly with you guys. The creepiness factor is very high the first 30 minutes -- the distance noises, the record player, the first glimpse of a masked figure in the house -- but then in turns into a very cliche horror movie in which the characters do very dumb things. I also agree with Lindy Loo about the ending.

I'd be interested to read what you guys think of Michael Haneke's "Funny Games", another home-invasion themed movie. I've only seen the original German version, but the American remake is supposed to be frame-by-frame and word-for-word by the same German director himself. You might also want to check out "Them", a French home-invasion horror movie.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love love love FUNNY GAMES (the german version). That movie is fricking brilliant, but the reason it's so brilliant is that it's not so much about the events within the movie as it is about why we chose to WATCH such a movie, why we're there to watch torture as entertainment.

Also brilliant is the fact that pretty much every scene of violence (minus maybe one or so) takes place off-screen. Which I again think is brilliant, 'cause it's basically just Haneke being like, "So: is this what you came for? Seriously? To watch people get tortured? Well, I'm not gonna give you any of that."

Same with the brief moments where one of the antagonists addresses the audience. And with the remote control scene. All of it's just in your face about why we choose to watch such things.

I really do think that is a brilliant brilliant film. The American version wasn't nearly as good--for some reason it seemed less skillful and subtle than the German. I suspect it was just the acting--the German actors are leaps and bounds better.

But yeah, I highly recommend as well.

At 2:57 AM, Anonymous scary clips said...

This was a twisted film!


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