2008 saw a brilliantly effective , sublimely creepy and brutally downbeat thriller The Strangers released. Made on a $9m budget it went on to make over $82m worldwide. A sequel would be greenlit pretty sharpish. Except it’s taken ten years to finally appear. The original writer and director, Bryan Bertino, wrote the sequel, The Strangers Prey at Night, but various legalities and complications delayed the film from getting made and eventually Bertino moved on to other films and in came British director Johannes Roberts (The Other side of the Door) himself no stranger to low budget films after last 2016’s $5m budgeted shark movie 47 Metres Down went on to make $44m.
What made the first so good was its claustrophobic setting in a house with three masked 20-somethings attacking the husband and wife occupants for no reason whatsoever. A home invasion movie it ratcheted up the tension with the most un-Hollywood of endings. It was the stuff of nightmares. Inevitably The Strangers Prey at Night tries to repeat the template this time with a husband and wife and their teenage children going on a break to a caravan park to visit an uncle and aunt before their daughter goes off to college. Obviously these three masked 20- somethings have chosen the uncle and aunt’s caravan park for their next killing spree. Let the carnage begin.
Bertino’s script loses much of it’s tension from the family now having the run of what appears to be an entirely empty caravan park which immediately dissipates the tension of the originals confined setting. The fact that they can so easily run about and that no one else seems to live on the park makes it less than believable with only the old Hammer horror favourite, the mist drifting across a moonlit landscape, to add any shivers.
What follows is a series of sadistically nasty and senseless killings underlined when one of the teenagers asks one of the killers, ‘Why are you doing this?’ to which she replies, ‘Why not?’ It’s almost a reminder that teens continue to do mindless things that reach back for decades to when Marlon Brando’s leather jacketed biker in the ‘The Wild One’ is asked, ‘What are you rebelling against?’
‘What have you got?’, he replies.
There are some nice touches and a soundtrack from the Eighties, predominantly featuring Kim Wilde, is similar to that in ‘The Guest’ which did a similar thing. But even though The Strangers Prey at Night starts off using the track, ‘Kids in America’ appropriately enough Roberts doesn’t follow up on the chance to use other scene appropriate songs apart from maybe Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I need a hero’ . As female teen protagonist Kinsey (Bailee Madison) wears a Ramones T shirt you would have thought that, ‘I wanna be sedated’ would have popped up on the soundtrack somewhere as the killings commence.
Foregoing the chance to repeat its downbeat ending The Strangers Prey at Night is a far more formulaic Hollywood fare but for 85 minutes it passes the time.
Here’s The Strangers Prey at Night trailer…….
The Strangers : Prey at Night is released on Digital Download on 24th August 2018