Soon after arriving at an isolated home, Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) find themselves under attack by masked assailants.
Six years after this movie came out, I still distinctly remember the experience of seeing it in the cinema.
I remember the thrill of fear when it was first revealed that Liv Tyler wasn’t alone in the house (as pictured in the movie’s poster above). I remember initially liking Joanna Newson’s song, Sprout and the Bean, and then finding it really oppressive. I remember jumping a couple of times when some of my fellow movie-goers screamed (rather than thinking ‘Oh, come on,‘ like I often do).
In a lot of ways, The Strangers can be credited with bringing me back to the genre after I’d strayed for a while. It felt to me like a fresh take on an old story, and I was on board.
Re-watching it before writing this post, I could still feel an echo of those old feelings.
There’s something very visceral about watching The Strangers. The hand-held camerawork and the movie’s score do a great job of reeling you in, and ratcheting up the tension – although the former does get shaky enough at points (particularly toward the end) that it’s a bit distracting. Still, this doesn’t take away from the movie’s intensity, which it manages to build up – and pretty consistently maintain – after a slow beginning.
There’s not much to say about the story line of this movie, because there isn’t really one. The line in the synopsis above? That’s basically it. However, I appreciate that there was some depth given to the main characters, whose relationship has hit a major roadblock just before the events of the movie take place. And I love that we never see the face of the killers, or find out what their motivation is. The idea that this only happened “Because you were home,” really adds to the mindlessness of what happens.
Admittedly, The Strangers does fall victim to some of the usual horror movie cliches, and movie world failures in logic; and, I must admit, I found them a lot more obvious now than I did back when I first watched the movie. I also found Liv Tyler’s acting a little wanting at times – primarily because she seems to be putting on a bit too much of a little girl voice at times (Or is that just her normally? I don’t know!). But, these are minor quibbles with a movie that I’d happily recommend to anyone wanting to sit down and have a good scare.
I was pleased to learn that there’s a sequel in production. I’m not sure how to feel about the plot points that have been revealed so far, but if it’s anything like the original, it’ll be a great addition to the genre.
My recommendation? What are you doing reading about this movie? Go and watch it, now!