A family staying in a secluded mobile home park for the night are visited by three masked psychopaths, to test their every limit. – (Source)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 38% (Critics) / 63% (Audience)
MetaScore: 50 – Mixed or average reviews
Directed By: Johannes Roberts
Written By: Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson and Lewis Pullman
Studio: Aviron Pictures
I will always be a fan of the aesthetic of the The Strangers…those baby doll and pin-up doll masks that the female Strangers wear are so creepy and the male Stranger is such a frightening silhouette so that shots of him in the background or moving at a distance are instantly awesome to look at. I also liked that the sequel continued the original THE STRANGERS trick of keeping the lead Stranger’s face constantly hidden in shadow when she is making first contact with the groups intended victims.
The kills in this movie were very well done and leaned more on the realistic style than the outlandish stuff you find in most slasher horror films. The kills were all graphic and took time, there were no quick hits and then it was over. People died horribly in this movie and those deaths were all shot very well. And the setting of an off season trailer rental park adjacent to a lake was a clever one. It presented a remote killing ground that offered the intended victims very little hope while also being visually unsettling in it’s emptiness.
And the fight in the swimming pool between the male Stranger and one of the victims was not only really well done but a creative setting for a life and death battle and ratcheted up the tension as well as the rooting levels to a point that hadn’t been present in the movie up to then. As a viewer I really felt myself tensing up and hoping the good guy would prevail over the masked monster. That is how a movie like this is supposed to make you feel more often than not.
The family on the receiving end of The Strangers’ murderous rampage were a group of the most obnoxious characters ever to be assembled in a single movie. I get trying to flesh out the future horror movie victims and I appreciate the attempt because nothing is worse than watching people who you don’t give a damn about get butchered horribly by7 faceless killers but when fleshing these characters out it is a bad idea to make them into unlikable asshats. And that was this family in a nutshell…four unlikable asshats.
On top of being pretty damn unlikable, this family was made up of absolute morons. The victims in a horror movie are expected to be terrible at making sound decisions but you cannot have a movie full of people who make nothing but stupid decisions over and over again. Where is the rooting factor in people that repeatedly show that they are too stupid to live? This movie kept on lowering the bar for this family until we finally got a pivot in the last third of the movie and the remaining part of the clan actually showed some spine and started fighting back. But by then it was way too late for me to care.
And then there was the ninja like ability of the three Strangers to sneak up on people in wide open spaces. I lost count of how many scenes showed a Stranger just walk up to an unsuspecting person standing out in a field or on a well lit stretch of empty road. They were like classic slasher baddies like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers but with their stealth skills powered up to insane levels. It was just annoying and lazy on the part of the director. And I was disappointed because Johannes Roberts has shown some creativity in his past work directing movies like STORAGE 24 and 47 METERS DOWN but he seemed to have tossed any attempts at creativity aside and went for well worn horror tropes at every turn.
I was hoping against hope as I watched it unfold that what I was pretty sure was going to be the ending of this movie didn’t end up being the ending of this movie. Sadly, I was disappointed and we were served a cliched, uber-tropey horror movie ending.
Final Verdict: As a slasher/home invasion horror movie, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is decent enough with all the requisite content one would expect from this subgenre but as a sequel to 2008’s THE STRANGERS it pales in comparison. If you are a diehard horror head then you shouldn’t miss a chance to see this in a crowded theater but for everyone else it is perfectly OK to wait for it to come to whatever service you use to watch movies at home.