The Strangers: Prey at Night was a surprisingly simple and effective horror that managed to accomplish everything it was going for in an extremely short runtime. However, the film is just that: simple. It manages to accomplish the creation of an effective atmosphere, but the characters lack any development, and the film feels eerily familiar to any horror fanatic.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is incredibly reminiscent of popular 80s horror films, creating a surreal atmosphere for the villainous being to stalk and the unsuspecting victims to evade in. Johannes Roberts is at the helm for this long-delayed sequel of the 2008 horror and while he established an appropriate amount of suspense with his 2017 film 47 Meters Down, there was a chance that The Strangers: Prey at Night wouldn’t relieve any doubts going in. Luckily it did get rid of some of those doubts, with a heart racing pace and a film full of suspense, along with a grand finale that captured the beauty that was the 80s horror genre.
A family of four decides to take a vacation weekend to visit their grandparents, but when they arrive something is amiss. Dark and gloomy, the trailer park community the relatives reside in appears abandoned. After some odd encounters, the family quickly discovers that they are being hunted by a disturbed ‘family’ of mysterious strangers, whom they must try to survive from. The film focuses more on the unknown, unreasoning masked family than the character detail of the “main” characters that the film presents, even though in truth they could just be nameless victims ready for the slaughter. It’s simple, full of style and insanity, while also capturing the fun B-movie horror that hardly ever manages to come back into relevance.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Here is precisely where the film starts to tear apart. The limited characters presented to the audience lack any distinct character development, and the little bit that the film does include feels underutilized after the reasoning for the family visiting is set up. Out of the family of four, two of the four are absolutely dreadful, giving a shell of performance that gives the impression that the two have never acted with critical success. The two that work understand that this is a B-movie, play it well, but fun, and make the suspense thrilling.On another note, unfortunately for the audience watching, one on each side of the equation make it far in the short runtime. However the great thing that The Strangers: Prey at Night really captures is not only the great design of the masks, but the movement of the murderous strangers themselves, recapturing the beauty that still is Nick Castle’s Michael Myer movement; or in more recent years, Rob Mello’s underappreciated performance in Happy Death Day.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
There isn’t a moment of hesitation in my mind that thinks that composer Adrian Johnston is paying tribute to classic horror films such as the iconic Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street scores. The score found in The Strangers: Prey at Night builds up on fan favorites to create something recognizable and eerie all at the same time. Johnston isn’t striving to compose something wholly original, but to instead send shivers down horror fans spines with the sounds of something that has done just that in a previous experience. Several songs are selected throughout the film and resemble the type of song decisions made in an older style of horror film, particularly an 80s horror, which once again is best represented in the film’s best scene involving a particular pool and a classic 80s rock anthem.
The blood effects are clearly practical which I appreciate greatly as most times CGI blood can appear cheap. But beyond those simple but nicely completed effects, the real topic needed to be discussed are the costume designs for the ‘family’ of three that are going around murdering. The masks were the same as the original (just common knowledge) but as I haven’t seen the first, every little head shift or jump scare was made even more effective by the distinct masks and weapons they carried. Several of the murder scenes are brilliantly crafted with intensity in the atmosphere around the horror happening on the screen. This was most notably portrayed by a scene that occurs in a pool, which is wonderfully executed and is surely the highlight of the movie, as it demonstrates the finesse that the director has in his style.
The Strangers: Prey at Night successfully sent chills down my spine with it’s excellent direction and character designs; even though the story, acting, and overall character development are a little on the weaker side of things