The Strangers: Prey at Night
- Katherine McLaughlin
- 30 April 2018
Slasher sequel whose impressive set-pieces are undermined by its adherence to formula
Ten years after the release of Bryan Bertino's scary slasher flick starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, director Johannes Roberts (47 Metres Down, The Other Side of the Door) takes the reins of a sequel of sorts. The screenplay, written by Bertino and Ben Ketai, retains the carnage and masked murderers, replacing an isolated house for an out-of-season trailer park.
The briskly-paced original worked well as a throwaway, slaughter-house of horrors – featuring hysterical victims who wouldn't be out of place in Tobe Hooper's 1974 masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Roberts plays it safer by paying homage to 1980s horror, with an enjoyably nostalgic soundtrack and an attractive neon-lit canvas to boot.
Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson play the concerned parents of angsty Kinsey (Bailee Madison) and well-behaved Luke (Lewis Pullman). Discord between mother and daughter is speedily woven in before the killing spree begins. Much like the relationship woes of the first film, discontent brews beneath the surface, with stroppy teenager Kinsey taking her mum for granted and the family unit being literally torn apart with bloody relish.
The simple premise is stylishly executed as the relentless bloodletting is moved to more spacious surroundings. Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' plays out to an impressive swimming pool death match that boasts a menacing anonymous killer and suffocating underwater shots. A fiery pick-up truck seems to take on a life of its own, and the gore and mayhem is delivered with squirm-inducing glee.
Memorable set-pieces aside, the film trips up on far too many horror nods and tropes, shifting awkwardly to fit them all in. The 80s is a popular era for genre filmmakers to emulate stylistically – with 2014's The Guest a highlight of this trend – but The Strangers: Prey at Night adheres too closely to formula, refusing to drive its narrative to unexpected places.
General release from Fri 4 May.