Josh's Score: 7.5/10
First time writer/director Bryan Bertino gives us a sharp horror thriller that defiantly works. While some claim that it might not be as smart as this years earlier thriller Funny Games, The Strangers delivers more scares than many of the recent thrillers of the past couple years.The story takes place in a secluded farmhouse that James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) are staying the night in after their return from a friend’s wedding reception. The couple seems to be having some communication issues, and Bertino is brave enough to slowly reveal what exactly those issues are. It isn’t to long after they arrive that someone starts beating on their door. The night suddenly turns into a battle for survival as James and Kristen must overcome their differences to try and stay alive against the brutal actions from the strangers outside.
This film is a good throwback to 70’s horror films. In fact, while I was watching it, I couldn’t help but think of the original Halloween. In Halloween, Mike Myers disappears and reappears within a glance, his murders are viscous, and the suspension in the film carries through the whole movie. The Strangers works in the same way. The villains are able to be in the frame for one second, and then be gone the next. I’m mostly impressed by how Bertino is able to keep suspension lasting as tight as it does the entire film. That aspect can also be contributed to both Liv Tyler’s and Scott Speedman’s believable performances.
Bertino lays a lot of cards down on the table when the scares first pick up. However, the film still manages to stay one step ahead of the audience. That’s what I was really drawn to. Many horror fans will be relieved to hear that this isn’t a “torture-porn” film. I’ll admit that it really does take a lot to scare me, however this film really worked on me. I would highly recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a good scare this summer.