The Strangers: Prey At Night (2018)
Critic Consensus: The Strangers: Prey at Night may appeal to fans of the original who've been jonesing for a sequel, but its thin story and ironic embrace of genre tropes add up to a bloody step back.
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Critic Reviews for The Strangers: Prey At Night
In a moment when horror movies like Get Out and the forthcoming Hereditary earn praise for their adventurousness, these retro scares feel especially out of touch.
Has a slow and rather grim first half, but then, in the home stretch, takes a welcome turn into the seriously silly.
Two films in, The Strangers has already become a horribly familiar franchise.
An unexpected anomaly-a sequel that both is better than and fixes the problems of its predecessor.
Though it's as slim and poorly balanced as a cheap knife, "The Strangers: Prey at Night" is a stylish 1980s throwback that packs plenty of terror into its short running time.
Audience Reviews for The Strangers: Prey At Night
Have I reviewed a home invasion movie in this annual horror fest yet? Oh yea, Better Watch Out. But that's kind of an inverse home invasion, in that the the person doing the invading is a person that actually lives in the home the film takes place in. Regardless, let's move on, shall we? I wonder if this movie initially started as a sequel to the original. The reason I say this is that I've seen a few movies that, supposedly, were sequels to a horror movie that had nothing in common with the original movie, except that they shared the same name with a number at the end of it or, in this case, a subtitle. What they did, they took a generic script, make some slight adjustments so it can, maybe, fit into the same universe as the original and just slap the same name onto it. Quarantine 2, for example, took place on a plane and had absolutely very little to do with the original movie, which was a remake of Rec (a tremendous horror movie). Mostly this is done for purposes of pure greed. A horror movie was successful, but a sequel wouldn't exactly do great business in theaters, so they just threw some bucks at some aspiring filmmakers and had them produce a quick and cheap sequel that they could, through DVD rentals or VOD, make their money back on because they cashed in on the name of a successful horror movie. That's what a lot of direct-to-video horror sequels end up feeling like. So it makes me wonder. Though, if I'm being fair, there was a sequel being planned for this movie shortly after the release of the original over ten years ago. Apparently, it had a very troubled development period, and the film is co-written by the writer of the original movie. So this is a true blue sequel. Having said that, I saw the original over ten years ago and I had mixed thoughts. I remember really liking how they built some of the tension, like when (unbeknownst to Liv Tyler's character) one of the Strangers appears from the dark and just stands behind her while she is in the kitchen. But I also remember thinking that it didn't really do anything new or that exciting. But, to be fair, I'd also be willing to give the original another shot, to see if I feel any differently about it. Let's move on to this movie, shall we? If I'm being honest, taking everything into consideration and my score for the original movie, I actually really liked this movie. Perhaps not enough to say that it's a really good movie, because it's not, but it is a fun slasher that hearkens back, with a wink and a nod, to the 80s slasher. I'll give them credit in that, while there's very minimal character development as the attack by the Strangers is going on, the movie does do a good job at setting up its heroes. Cindy, Mike and their children, Luke and Kinsey, are on a family road trip to their relatives' trailer park before Kinsey is sent off to boarding school for some, apparent, behavioral issues. They establish the characters, their personalities and their motivations. Again, it's not like it's any great shakes and, once again, it isn't used to explore the issues that exist in this family, but they do at least give the characters something to make them feel more than just bodies to be slaughtered by the Strangers. So I have to give them props for, at the very least, attempting to make you care about the characters. They could have just as easily had us be completely indifferent to them and their plight and they didn't. As I mentioned, however, the movie is tribute and a satire of 80s slashers. Some people, and reviewers, criticized the movie for its reliance of cliches and genre tropes. And, to me, these people seem to be missing the point. Because, umm, the point that they're missing is the point of the movie. I think that the cool 80s soundtrack helps to set this satirical mood. It's used to take you back to that time and those movies, but it's also used to create a nice contrast. Here you have these poppy and innocuous 80s songs being used as the backdrop to the Strangers' (attempted) slaughter of this entire family. The film gets the tone and the atmosphere right, because while this trailer park is relatively large, there's still a sense of claustrophobia given that, no matter what this family does, they always seem to be playing right into the Strangers' hands. They're everywhere at all times which, of course, is another nod to 80s slashers. The acting is more than solid all around. Bailee Madison is quite underrated and, really, it's not like she gets to show much of her range here, but she's very good regardless. In short, the movie is fun to watch. Particularly late at night and with a good of friends. This is just that kind of movie. That's not to say that it isn't without its flaws. While it is a wink and a nod to a, mostly, bygone era of horror, the movie isn't exactly as clever or as subversive as it might fancy itself to be. I'm not saying that this movie thought it was Cabin in the Woods or anything like that, it doesn't have those ambitions, but I do think that it might rely too much on that cleverness instead of attempting to do something that feels fresh and clever. Partly, I do believe that its adherence to 80s slasher tropes also ended up limiting what it could do in the long run with its story, its characters and its world. But, at the same time, that's also part of what makes it a fun movie. So you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I guess it's not really that much of an issue, at least for me, since I, again, had a fun time watching this movie and I think that some of the negative reviews sort of missed the point of what the movie was going for. Though I'm sure some people knew what the movie was and they still, legitimately, didn't like it. That's perfectly fine, everyone is obviously entitled to think what they want about any movie they see. Regardless, while it's not perfect, this is a fun horror movie. I would recommend it if you have Prime, want something that's not too long and easy to enjoy, particularly with a group of friends.
The rare sequel that surpasses its predecessor on every level. If you can make it past the dull character development, the utter mayhem that follows is infinitely rewarding. The terrifying "Total Eclipse of the Heart" sequence alone will make this worth your time.
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