Debut horror flick tortures audience
The Strangers strives to be a horror film marketed on our primal fears. Though the film is heavily stocked with shocks and surprises, there is nothing completely original.
Brian Bertino, first-time director and University of Texas graduate, succeeds in making the film feel as authentic as possible by capturing disturbing realism with the tag, "inspired by true events." Bertino has done his horror movie homework, borrowing from such classics as John Carpenter’s Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Torture horror films such as Saw and Eli Roth’s mindless gore fests, the Hostel films, are the current trend in Hollywood horror. The Strangers attempts to torture and strike fear in the audience through mood and pacing. Bertino had the right idea, but the scares and jolts are predictable.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman’s performances as the victims are worthy, but not enough to save the film from its flaws. While their performances do the job, unknowns could have easily filled the roles as well as established Hollywood names. There are moments in the film where there is little dialogue, leaving only creepy sounds that build anticipation. However, any potential effects for a scare are ruined by Tyler’s body language, which cues the audience to what is about to happen.
Despite The Strangers’ weaknesses, it also has strengths. Its main strength is the gritty realism, as the violence in the film is gripping and effective. The creepy nature of the film and realistic, violent imagery leave an impression on the viewer.
The final scene takes place in daylight, which adds a new dimension, but falls flat and is anti-climatic. The climax is dissatisfying and the final shot is absurd as its only purpose is to get one last cheap scare out of the crowd before the final credits roll.
For Bertino’s first film and the daunting task of directing horror, he does the job – just not enough to get the job done.