The Strangers: Prey at Night
“Kids In America” by mild-mannered ’80s gladiatrix Kim Wilde plays on a car radio, followed by a door knock to signal the gutter-spawned violence of masked killers-to-come in this tribute to ’80s slasher sleepers, co-written by Bryan Bertino, the director for 2008’s original film. That one was a mess of unmotivated, nonsensical, orchestrated door-to-door murders where Liv Tyler was tormented by a masked trio. This film, ten years later, is the perfect mix, as a randomly targeted, dysfunctional family of four have their planned outing at an isolated mobile home park disrupted by a knock on the door. The carefree carnage that ensues catches everyone off-guard – including the cold-blooded perpetrators – to the tunes of Jim Steinman and borrowed synth-voyages a la John Carpenter! In 90 minutes it wallops every bludgeoned cliché, from new romantic axe-wielding at a neon-lit swimming pool to its Chainsaw-styled getaway. All the elements are present: delinquent schoolgirl, uninvolved but “concerned” parents, bathroom window escapes and inoperative phone lines (along with smashed cellphones for the update)! It pulls off the next-to-impossible task of being clichéd but clever – and it’s scary!