Review: ‘Strangers: Prey at Night’ offers solid scares
A decade after the original horror hit, the trio of masked psychos is back, but they still don’t have a motive
A family is terrorized for no apparent reason in “The Strangers: Prey at Night,” an eerily effective sequel to 2008’s horror hit.
The original “Strangers” centered on a home invasion plot where a couple (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler) was attacked by a trio of masked psychos, their only crime being that they were home.
“Prey at Night” is connected, sort of, but since we know nothing about the individuals behind the creepy masks (two old-timey doll faces and one burlap sack), who’s to say? The Strangers have no M.O. beyond the thrill of the kill, which is scary in its own right. Their motive is they have no motive.
This time around they’re on the trail of a family of four, on their way to take troubled teen Kinsey (Bailee Madison) to boarding school. Mom and dad (Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson) are stopping off for the night at a Kentucky trailer park owned by family; Kinsey’s older brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) is along for the ride.
It's not long before there’s a knock at the door and an expressionless voice asking, “is Tamra home?” From there, it’s a fog laden game of cat and mouse, soundtracked to some awesomely cheesy ’80s soft rock hits.
Director Johannes Roberts (last summer’s Mandy Moore shark movie “47 Meters Down”), taking the reins from original director Bryan Bertino (who co-wrote the screenplay), pays homage to old-school ’80s slasher flicks and is particularly fond of long, slow zooms. Bertino was more successful creating a breathless air of suspense, in part because he confined himself to such a small space; Roberts is dealing with an expansive setting, the geography of which is often unclear.
Still, before he overstays his welcome with the drawn-out finale, Roberts creates some solid scares, and the film’s centerpiece sequence in a swimming pool is a bonkers delight. The original “Strangers” was a minor masterwork in terror. “Prey at Night” doesn’t measure up, but it’s certainly knocking on its door.
‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’
Rated R: for horror violence and terror throughout, and for language
Running time: 90 minutes