Film Review – The Strangers (2008)

29 08 2008

I have debated whether to write a review for this film or not. The screening of ‘The Strangers’ that I was in, seemed to be filled to the brim with the dregs of society. I felt as though I was sat in a youth club, with not many people seeming to be 15 or over. With every jump and scare in the film, the whole audience burst with laughter and talked loudly for what seemed like a long time after. With quite a lot of scares, there was a lot of laughter, and a lot of LOUD talking. In fact I can’t think of the last time I had an experience as bad as I had tonight in a cinema screen. Because of this bad experience, my judgement on the film maybe skewed, but now I know what happens I don’t think re-watching it would benefit.

With that spiel over with, I guess I’ll get on with some sort of a review. Well, I’ll begin with a brief synopsis.

A young couple return home after attending a wedding reception, where they are then terrorised by a group of ‘strangers’.

A short synopsis yes. I did say brief. You can click Here to see a trailer.

The old favourite horror technique, ‘This story is inspired by real events’ unnecessarily opens the film in my opinion. Although an argument may be that it makes the audience think ‘oh god this could happen to me’, the message is usually forgotten at some point through the film. Personally if I were to use this technique, I think it would be more effectively placed at the end of the film. So that fear a viewer has, is with them as they go home, reenforcing the images they have seen.

Despite my bad cinematic visit, I have tried to think objectively about the film, to form an accurate opinion on the film rather than my experience. Suspense is generated extremely effectively, with great pace and timing for each individual scare. The characters are believable and act almost as one would expect them to in such a situation, with a few exceptions that result in typical frustration at times.

I don’t know what it is with bags and sacks on heads at the moment, but it seems to be a technique used in a lot of films recently. Probably beginning with ‘Scarecrow’ in Batman Begins, to the kid in ‘The Orphanage’, and the characters in the upcoming ‘Baghead’. Whatever it is, it seems to work. More so than most conventional masks like in ‘Halloween’, it seems that a good old bag or sack seems to scare people to their wits end. The ‘leader’ of the strangers does not disappoint, his look is genuinely terrifying, and I think if i went to my window and he was looking back at me, I’d need a change of clothes pretty quickly.

The performances of the actors did not disappoint as their was no noticeably bad elements or their performances. Though they won’t be winning awards any time soon.

It is refreshing to see a film classified as horror these days that is not a 90 minute torture-porn gore-fest, and that traditional psychological thrillers still have a place in modern cinema.

Despite the great buildup of suspense throughout the film, the ending left much too be desired. In fact, the ending was poor and felt very rushed. As though first time writer/director Bryan Bertino had no idea how to successfully conclude his story which held such great potential. I’m sure Bertino will go on to hone his craft and I hope his next project, ‘Alone’, is a lot more polished and refined.

Cheers

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