Hot Take: Loved the first one but this sequel kept all the parts that were wrong with the original and nothing that was right. The best thing I can say is that it’s a throwback to 80s horror BUT most of us are happy that phase is behind us.
Admittedly, I was secretly excited about a sequel to The Strangers, the much maligned 2008 horror flick starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman which killed at the box office thanks to a modest $9 million budget. However, after seeing The Strangers: Prey At Night, I just wanted to go back and watch the original again. There’s not much tension, it’s not all that scary and some of the scenes that should elicit the most fearful reactions are kind of laughable thanks to an oddly placed soundtrack which makes the film more humorous than harrowing.
The Strangers: Prey At Night opens in a trailer park with the three killers who now are identified as Dollface, Pin Up Girl and Man in the Mask, pull up in front of one of the trailers. Inside, one of the two inhabitants is brought out of her sleep by a knock at the door. The wife gets up and goes to the door to see an empty truck outside blaring 80s pop music. She locks the door but it’s too late as Dollface is inside and kills the wife and then climbs into the bed next to the husband. After the opening credits roll, the main characters of our horror tale are introduced. Mike (Martin Henderson) and Cindy (Christina Hendricks) are loading up the car to drive their troubled daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison) to boarding school. Their son Luke (Lewis Pullman) will also be joining them on the trip which will detour to their uncle’s trailer park (Guess who was killed by our trio of murderers in the open?) for the night before she gets to her boarding school. Once they arrive, the kids want no parts of their parents and eventually troubled Kinsey runs off to smoke while the parents send Luke to pal around with her. Meanwhile, the looming terror begins as a knock on the door and a girl whose face is unrecognizable in the shadows asks if Tamara is home. This happens again before the movie jumps into slasher horror mode as the family tries to survive the night while being hunted down by our homicidal band of masked killers.
Where this sequel has appeal is for purely nostalgic reasons. If you told me this film was found in a vault somewhere and was filmed in 1985, I wouldn’t have tried to disprove you. It has the look and feel of a classic ’80s horror film. However, now that these types of plots have been done so many times over, it, unfortunately, has the look and feel of every ’80s horror film. There’s nothing original here with the exception of a few gruesome and well shot killings. They score points for creativity in a couple of instances. The characters lack any real development and the bad guys are a little boring. So, you don’t care if the family survives and you aren’t particularly rooting for the bad guys to win as some of the best horror films in the 80s have you do. There’s little in the way of a morality problem here for our main characters, either, as none of them have really done anything to deserve what has come to them unless you count Kinsey’s obsession with smoking without inhaling.
The Strangers: Prey At Night feels like a big swing and a miss. The horror genre has moved on from these slasher flicks from the ’80s and watching this ill-advised sequel is a reminder of why the genre has evolved. That’s not to say a great slasher flick wouldn’t be welcome. This one just isn’t that.
You’re pining away for an ’80s slasher flick.
You’ve joined the 21st century.