Review for The Strangers
James and Kristen arrive at James' family country house in the middle of nowhere a stranger knocks at the door, this starts off the terror by three masked intruders for reasons that aew never really explained other than that they were home. What follows is simply a home invasion horror film that amps up the tension, but really ends before it ever got started.
I am going to start with the positives in that for a first time Director Bryan Bertino certainly knows how to create a tense atmosphere. As the film starts, it taps into the fears we all have of what we would do if we were in the middle of nowhere and being terrorised. This effect created with great sound work and editing and for the most part the acting of Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as the couple is great.
However, that is all you can really say about the film. The three 'Strangers' a masked man and two masked women pop up here and there with no rhyme or reason and at times I wasn't sure whether they were supernatural or real and that doesn't help this film. At times I was genuinely scared by the jumpcuts and sound design and at other times I was simply playing 'Where's Wally' with the three Strangers and trying to spot where they would appear next. The film falls apart by the ending and then just ends with one of the most bizarre endings ever.
I think the thing that I didn't enjoy about the film is the fact that there does not appear to be any reason for it. The characters simply state that they were terrorising them because 'They are home'. For some, the random, unmotivated nature of the violence could make this worse, but for me I wanted a reason and the lack of any interaction with The Strangers meant I didn't care by the end. This is a shame as I felt the film started really well and if Bertino had just added a little back story or gave the characters more... well character... then it would have been a much more enjoyable film to watch.
I say this often, but there is nothing worse than a bad film which is full of extras. It feels like a chore to get through and that is definitely the case with this. An almost hour long interview with Director/Writer Bryan Bertino is great if you are a fan of the film or on how he got to make a film, but for the average viewer this was very dull. The interview with Kevin Greutert (who also edited most of the Saw films) is good if you want a look at the editing process. He certainly enjoys his work and it is surprising the number of films he has worked on. It is true that his work in this film is fabulous in creating and building the tension.
Interviews with Liv Tyler and also Laura Margolis are fine and they clearly enjoyed the film and the production of the film, though at times I am convinced they were both talking about a different film.
Element of Terror and Strangers at the Door are two archive featurettes looking at the making of the film. These are fine in general and show how the film was made and do not outstay their welcome.
Five minutes of Deleted Scenes don't add much and I can understand why these two scenes were deleted. It is odd that they don't include whatever they added into the 'extended' version which apart from the obvious change to the ending I could not see what they were. This extended cut is better in some respects, but only adds a whopping two minutes and forty seconds to the run time and makes you wonder why they bothered?
The Strangers is not necessarily a bad film, just not a film that I would expect to get a Blu-ray release packed with Special Features. There clearly are fans of the film (with a sequel created almost a decade after this one) and if you are fan of this taut, terror-based horror then you may enjoy it. I found that the lack of humanity in any of the characters meant that by the end I didn't know who anyone was and had no real care for their fate either. The 'Inspired' tagline can be taken as simply that home invasions happen and this film is based on that fact which is little lame and this will no doubt be a film that I will be a stranger to in the future.