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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

THE STRANGERS REVIEW


(Spoiler Alert)


  My first thought after watching this movie was: why didn’t I think of that? It was such a simple idea. Really, it was the movie that finally got me to try my hand at screenplays. They took a simple idea, created a storyline, and sprinkled in some terror. Voila, you get a terrifying movie.
  A couple, James Hoyt and Kristen McKay, drove out to his parent’s summer home after a wedding reception. Not long after being there, a girl knocked on the door, and asked if Tamara was home. The couple told her that she had the wrong house, so she left. Unknown to the couple, that would be the first of many knocks at the door that night. A man wearing a bag over his head, along with a woman and young girl wearing masks, soon would be terrorizing them.
  You see, not a very complicated idea. There were a few key elements that made up this movie. First, they had the couple. They developed a little plot about why they were there, and who they were. Second, they had three crazy strangers ready to do some terrorizing. And finally, they had a particular house, which was perfect for terrorizing someone because it was in a remote area. Now they had the basics of the story down, all they had to do was fill in some blanks.
  The movie began and ended with the couple. Instead of starting the movie at the house, we first saw the couple on their drive up to the house. Not a big deal right? Wrong, the drive set the mood for the beginning of the movie. They said nothing to each other, and had sad looks on their faces. You could the feel awkwardness between them, but you were not sure what was the cause of it. Their awkwardness continued as you find out that James proposed to her, but she said no. He expected her to say yes, and had set up the house for them to celebrate their engagement. The night started off great, but now they were not sure what their future as a couple would be.
    The situation was unusual for them, but it made you feel sorry for them (especially knowing what was soon to happen). The movie played with your emotions as it displayed how James had rose pedals in the bedroom and bathroom, lit candles, and wine ready for them to celebrate. He even took out the box with the engagement ring in it, and insisted that he couldn’t keep it. Then just has they started kissing, and you thought they would get over this bad moment in time for them, there was the knock at the door that put a stop to any hopes of them reconciling.
  Now that the movie got you feeling sorry for the couple, it was ready to begin terrorizing them. Now home alone, Kristen was rattled by more knocks at the door, a smoke detector going off, and her phone call to James being cut off before one of the more memorable scenes of the movie occurred. Kristen lit a cigarette in front of the kitchen, and seemed to be trying to calm down. Unknown to her, a man, with a bag over his face, stepped out of the hallway behind her, and stood there watching her. He stood there until she got a glass of water, and turned around. What seemed like several terrifying minutes, actually turned out to be only about 40 seconds of movie time (sorry I was curious how long he stood there). I really liked this because it was another simple thing the movie did. He just stood there, but it made you nervous. What was he going to do? Was he going to attack her? Would she see him? Did she feel like someone was watching her? She never saw him, but she was plenty scared after seeing the smoke detector that was previously on the floor, was now on top of a chair.
  After James returned, the three tormentors continued to play games with the couple. This wasn’t Saw though, there wasn’t any devices attached to them to escape from. They did it by knocking on the doors and windows, trashing their car, sneaking in and out of the house, and writing messages on the windows. Not to mention, the fantastic masks the girls had on, and the creepy bag the man had over his face. All simple little things that scared the couple more and more as time went on.
  This was all possible because of the third important element in this movie, the house. In order to pull this off in the fashion that they did, the masked assailants needed a home in a remote area where no one would hear or see what was going on. At one point James mentioned that he hadn’t heard a dog bark, or a car pass. He said it was “Just us and them.” The house also had some key features to it. One of those features was glass doors and windows that were covered by curtains. You never knew if someone was behind one, or if one had been opened. If they weren’t opened, they were written on. My favorite feature of the house was that it had an old fashion record player. In a couple of the tense scenes, you had this record player playing a loud country song. Some of the lyrics were pretty funny. One song said something like “should we go outside,” and another song said, “momma tried to raise him better.” Probably not a good idea to go outside, and if momma raised these crazy people better, they wouldn’t be torturing the couple.
  All these things led up to a great ending. Okay, maybe not so great for the couple, but there were several things I really liked about the ending. First, was the shot of the three strangers standing in front of the tied up couple. After all the terror throughout the night, you see the couple actually made it to morning, but they still were not safe. Before they were just toying with them, but now you had real fear for what was about to happen to them. Second, was the question asked by Kristen, and answered by the masked blond girl. Kristen asked why they were doing this, and the girl answered, “Because you were home.” It was just such a demoralizing thing to say at that moment. Basically, you are going to die because we have nothing better to do, and you showed up. Also, it made me think back to how the couple got there. From the good time they were having at a wedding reception, to a marriage proposal gone wrong, to the house where they were supposed to be celebrating, and now to their certain death. What if he didn’t propose to her? They probably wouldn’t be in front of these crazy strangers, but instead be waking up after a night of fun somewhere else.
  The movie tugged at your emotions one last time. Kristen reached over, and rubbed James’s knee. You saw the engagement ring that she tried on earlier was still on her hand. Both of them were crying as she told James for the last time that she loved him. As this happened, the shot went back and forth between the couple and the strangers. It reminded you of what everyone knew was about to happen. After each of the killers unveiled their faces to the couple, they each took a turn at stabbing them. I was glad that they choose not to show the audience the faces of the killers, but still had them take off the masks. It left some mystery to them yet showed that these were just regular people behind the masks. Not Jason, nor Michael, but just some regular people that apparently had something to prove to themselves. Also, I liked that the movie continued keeping things simple, and had the killers just stab the couple. They didn’t come up with some complicated way to torture and kill them. They just stabbed them a couple of times, and let them slowly die. It was also refreshing to see an unhappy ending. I mean, come on, these are horror movies, why does the bad guy have to die all the time!
  What really made the movie for me was that it was consistently simple. A couple in a remote home, who thought their biggest issue was why they couldn’t get married, were about to be terrorized by three strangers. The strangers kept everything simple. They started with a knock on the door, then more knocks, and a few mind games that tortured the couple without even touching them. The scariest thing about this movie was that it could happen to anyone “because you were home.” If you didn’t think the movie was scary, put yourself in their shoes. Looking up at three strangers about to kill you, or to know someone has been in your house moving stuff around right behind you is pretty scary in itself. I give this movie 4 pools of blood.

  HorrO
  

3 comments:

  1. I loved this film too. Liked your angle on it.

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  2. Hmmm. This movie definitely was creepy. As to why the killers usually die at the end of the movie: well maybe because they should. Didn't your momma teach you an eye for an eye boy?

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  3. Sarah: Thanks. Glad you liked my take on the movie. I know some people didn't like the movie, but it surprisingly has become one of my favorites.

    Anony.: An eye for an eye, sounds good! Long live the killers!!!

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