THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT Review by Alan Frank
Another week, another horror movie.
No surprise there, given moviegoers’ apparent insatiable appetite for being scared, proved here in THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT – as in most preview screenings – by knowing laughs from the audience at appropriate moments of terror, surprise and spouting blood.
Which, to give director Johannes Roberts his due, he tries hard to deliver and, occasionally, succeeds despite a storyline stuffed with more well-known genre tropes than an overweight Thanksgiving turkey.
The Strangers: Prey at Night Trailer
Sadly, there’s not a huge amount of originality on view to give thanks for in this horror sequel (first announced in 2009) to director Bryan Bertino’s far better 2008 shocker The Strangers.
Here Bertino co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Ketai, sensibly leaving Roberts to bring the story to the screen with rather more assistance than the material deserves from his players – Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Lewis Pullman and Bailee Madison.
The Slaughter Begins
They’re the typical all-American family – Dad and Mom straight out of a Hallmark Card, Pullman their teenage jock son and mobile phone-addicted teenage daughter Madison who is as sulky as hell at being sent to boarding school and lets everyone know about just how she feels.
Cue the family break.
They drive off on a road trip, arriving at a trailer park at Gatlin Lake where they’ve apparently been invited to stay only to find the place strangely deserted. And discover Uncle Marvin who invited them dead and mangled…
Slice and Dice
Cue all-too-familiar shocks and bloody mayhem as the luckless quartet find themselves under attack by mad homicidal mask-wearing weirdos Dollface, Pin-Up Girl and Man in the Mask (The Axeman Cometh?) who merrily proceed to slice and dice in search of box-office success.
It’s slickly enough done (Ryan Samul’s atmospheric wide-screen cinematography adds welcome visual impact to the collection of clichés on display), Bertino does his best to polish the clichés while staging some effectively nasty sequences, notably Henderson’s bloody skewering in a car crash and subsequent stomach-churning “assisted” death.
That said, I felt that Bertino fatally fails to establish his motor camp location so that the geography of the ensuing bloody horrors is not ever really clear.
A Life of Bloody Slaughter
If you’re a committed genre completist then in fairness I suppose I should quote one of the killers when asked why she is enjoying a life of bloody slaughter, she replies. “Why not?”
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is in UK Cinemas from 4th May, 2018.
Dir. Johannes Roberts, US, 2018, 85 mins, cert. 15
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson, Emma Bellomy, Lewis Pullman, Damian Maffei