The Strangers: Prey at Night finally arrived in theaters a decade after the original film.
Not a lot has changed since the first movie and The Strangers: Prey at Night pretty much follows the same formula set up in the first film.
Cindy and Mike (Christina Hicks and Martin Henderson) along with their son, Luke, (Lewis Pullman) are taking their daughter, Kinsey (Bailee Madison) to a boarding school, after several incidences with her behavior has landed her in hot water. While heading to their destination, they plan to spend the night at Cindy’s uncle's place at Gatlan Lake, a small community of trailers that during the fall becomes completely vacant, except for the owners. But little does the family know that the Strangers have already made Gatlan Lake their next hunting ground.
Leading up to the family arriving at Gatlan is the normal character development we’ve seen in most horror movies of this kind. In this case, character development is put on the back burner for more suspense and tension. There really isn't much time given to the characters or their motives other than to establish the basic fundamentals for the plot to unfold and to get the ball going and for the blood to start flowing.
This is the films biggest problem. With little to no character development, leaves the viewer unable to become invested in these people, and when the tension is amped up, and their lives are on the line, you don’t really feel all that invested in their safety because the characters are so flat and generic.
That isn’t to say the film is bad just because of the weak characters. It is a rather well-crafted horror/thriller that had plenty in the bag when it came to the scares and suspense. The setting in the community was fun, expanding the idea of the first film of just two people locked inside of a house to a deserted community filled with multiple trailers, playgrounds, and cars to trap and terrorize their victims.
Johannes Roberts direction was creepy and stylish, crafting several nail biting scenes that were as unnerving as they were bloody. One can tell his love for the slasher flicks of the 1970s and 1980s, using shots (techniques that are rarely used now days) from movies of that era, giving the film a retro throwback vibe. He keeps the tension high, the atmosphere dark and dreary, while supplying some fantastic jump scares in the process.
Speaking of retro. The soundtrack by Adrian Johnston is worthy of noting, with a stylish synth score that paired well with the Roberts style of filmmaking.
The film never feels slow or boring, and at a runtime of just one hour and twenty-five minutes, you get what you paid for: to see the Stranger stalk, hunt, prey, and murder their victims.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is a worthy successor to the original, even if the characters were a little underdeveloped, but it’s still a fun, stylish horror/thriller that should please most fans of the genre.
8 out of 10 Stars
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