A family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night are visited by three masked psychopaths, to test their every limit.
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Martin Henderson
Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Written by: Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai
After watching “The Strangers,” I was inspired to write horror because I thought they did such an excellent job with a simple idea. Well that was many years ago, and I’m obviously not a horror writer just horror reviewer. Regardless, I’ve always held “The Strangers” in high regard because of how it inspired me, and couldn’t be happier to finally get a sequel. Unfortunately, I can’t say “The Strangers: Prey at Night” inspired me in the same way, and here’s why.
The sequel starts off much like the original did introducing the audience to characters who are having a conflict amongst themselves. This time around Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and her husband Mike (Martin Henderson) have made a decision to send their troubled daughter, Kinsey (Bailee Madison), to boarding school. Kinsey isn’t thrilled with this decision, and gives her parents and brother, Luke (Lewis Pullman), a hard time while on their road trip. While this isn’t bad drama to build on, it just doesn’t pull on the heart strings the way the couple did in the original.
The home and how the strangers were able to keep the couple inside it was something important to keeping the tension in the original. When the family arrives at the trailer, it quickly becomes apparent that the strangers won’t be keeping them contained there long. This creates some problems for this sequel, the first being that it isn’t as intense as the original. With the characters spread out, the movie goes back and forth, and this kills any tension that is created. On top of that, it creates a lot of coincidences of how the strangers seem to always be at the right place at the right time. A great example of that is the jack in the box scene, as fun as that was.
Enough with the bad, how about some good? Not as creepy as the when the Man in the Mask is watching Kristen in the living room in “The Strangers,” but it’s definitely messed up when the Man in the Mask sits down next to Mike in the car. It’s crazy how he just takes his time, plays with the radio, stabs him, and just stares at Mike as he bleeds out. Another scene that is getting a lot of attention is the pool scene. The lights, the music, and the struggle between Luke and the Man in the Mask is pretty cool.
However, this just leads to another complaint. It was so nice to see a horror film like “The Strangers” break from having at least one survivor, and kill off the couple. This time around, the strangers aren’t so lucky, and we get a standard horror movie ending. It’s shocking when Luke slices up Pin-Up Girl, and even more disappointing when Dollface is blown away. Kinsey and the Man in the Mask put on a good ending fight, even reminding some of us of a classic horror movie, but ultimately having Kinsey freak out in a hospital room is too standard. An argument can be made that the Man in the Mask and/or Pin-Up Girl survived for a part three, but that seems like a stretch. They aren’t Jason or Michael. Does it open the door for new killers…maybe but then it won't be THE Strangers!
Overall, as with many sequels, “The Strangers: Prey at Night” just doesn’t live up to the original. It starts off with a similar formula of drama within the family and the strangers appearing in time to take advantage of that, but then what made “The Strangers” so great evaporates. Instead of creating a movie that is intense throughout, they take the time to give it some style and dramatics with how it’s shot jumping from character to character. They not only kill the tension, but also kill the strangers creating an all too familiar horror movie ending. No, this isn’t a bad movie, it just really fails to do what the original did. With that, I really wish I could give this more than than 3 pools of blood, of which 1 pool of blood basically comes from it being the freaking strangers!