There are plenty of horror films that make their way back to screens during the Halloween season, and “The Strangers” is a good addition to the list. Directed by Bryan Bertino, “The Strangers” focuses on multiple intruders that cause Kristin McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) nothing but frustration and panic. This film has the tendency to create chills solely because of its source material. The Manson family, Tate murders and several break-ins around director Bertino’s neighborhood as a child heavily influenced the entire film. This suspenseful, bloody home invasion film emphasizes that demons live among us and can become a reality.
The camera movements throughout the film are meant to emphasize the strangers breaking into the home, but once the film starts to build the foundation for the story and introduces the main characters, the constant shake during each scene distracts from the story development. When the film fills the silence in certain scenes, the music choice could be better to emphasize the thrill of the movie. However, silence plays a key role in the suspense of the film and it’s placed strategically throughout.
For an R-rated film, “The Strangers” lives up to the rating to an extent. There are plenty of gory scenes, but the suspense overrides the gore. Since this film holds suspense above gore, this either makes or breaks the film for different audiences. The gore has its precious moments throughout the film, specifically in a scene involving knives that can really upset the stomach.
Tyler gives a great acting performance as Kristin McKay and pulls the whole film together. The entire film is based on her reactions and emotions to the three invaders, and she delivers what the audience needs in different moments. However, the direction of her character’s writing does not live up to her acting potential. Tyler is given several situations in which her acting is imperative to convey the circumstances to the audience, but her character could have given a little more than fear itself.
Speedman gives a good acting performance for his character James Hoyt, but he is given little chances to show out. Speedman’s character is important to the overall story and display of suspense, but he sadly isn’t given any chances for his character to wow the audience.
There are plenty of adaptations of home invasions in the world of cinema such as “The Purge” and “Hush,” but “The Strangers” walks a thin line between basic and original. This film shines because of its backstory but could have broken the norm to stand out. The reality of the film is what gives it an authentic horror story feel. Since the film is based on real events, the realistic aspect of the film is quite overbearing, especially to the gory, cold end. The end of the film highlights that reality doesn’t always fulfill the fantasy people typically get, and this gave the film a bit of originality.