Unsettling Suspense Carries The Strangers: Prey at Night

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The Strangers Prey at Night

BAILEE MADISON (ONCE UPON A TIME) headlines this unsettling slasher flick, alongside CATCH-22's LEWIS PULLMAN, GREY'S ANATOMY's MARTIN HENDERSON, and GOOD GIRLS' CHRISTINA HENDRICKS.

The film focuses on a nuclear family -- mother, father, brother, daughter -- who have been experiencing difficulties with the behavior of their daughter (MADISON) -- so much so that they've elected to send her to a boarding school for girls. The planned road trip will see them spending the night in a trailer park owned and operated by their uncle, who runs the place for vacationers.

The family arrives late at night to find the place entirely abandoned -- not unusual for the time of year, they think. They get the key from under the mat and begin to settle in for the night, only to find out there's a reason why the place is abandoned, beginning with finding their uncle slaughtered in his trailer.

As the night progresses, the family is split apart by three masked teenagers who stab and stalk them with preternatural persistence, terrorizing them without reason or explanation, always to a killer soundtrack as the backdrop for their sadistic urges.

There is no backstory to why the three kids do what they do, and there is no supernatural element that drives the events. What is also unclear is how these three teens are masked in the same fashion as the three killers in 2008's THE STRANGERS. Is this film intended to be a remake? A sequel? All unclear.

The random of THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is the same as the original: the victims were targeted simply because they were there. In the original film, when LIV TYLER asks why the killers were doing what they did, the reply was, "Because you were home." In this version, when Bailee Madison's character corners a killer and demands "Why?" the killer delivers a nihilistic, "Why not?"

And that's terrifying. While there is no "true story" this film is based on, despite its claims at the opening and right there on the poster, at heart this is a home invasion with creepy masks. Want to be really scared? Go do a search on Google News for your home town coupled with the phrase "home invasion." Then try to sleep that night. You're welcome.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0