Movie Review: The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Ten years since the first horrifying installment, The Strangers: Prey at Night is the Johannes Roberts directed sequel released in 2018. Mike and Cindy (Martin Henderson and Christina Hendricks, respectively), along with their eldest child Luke (Lewis Pullman) are taking their troubled daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison) to a boarding school, but have to stop overnight at a family-owned trailer park. The family soon find themselves hunted by the strangers, Dollface, Pin-Up Girl and the silent stalker the Man in the Mask.

+ as far as character designs go, it doesn’t get much more ‘simple but effective’ as Dollface and Pin-Up Girl. The predominantly white face masks stand out dramatically in the very dark camera shots, and even when they are in better lit locations, they are still very unsettling
+ Bailee Madison (the daughter, Kinsey) is not bad at all, and reminded me in some ways of Anya Taylor-Joy’s rise to horror movie star. Wikipedia tells me that Madison is hardly a newcomer, as I had originally written, but this definitely the first I’ve seen of her
+ speaking of camera shots, there are lots of lingering, panning shots which very easily made me feel uneasy, as if there was something just out of view on the shadows – perhaps there in fact was, and I just missed it
+ the soundtrack is fantastic. If being a psychopathic, sociopathic serial killer gives you such a good taste in music then sign me the heck up

thestrangers_preyatnight_2
Shh. He’s sleeping.

– the lingering shots mentioned above are great, but it is obvious the film is trying to replicate the intense kitchen scene from the first movie at almost every turn, and it never works
– it is very clear that this was originally an unrelated horror movie, before being transitioned into a (very loose) sequel. The events of the first film feel so much more methodical than the stock standard horror tropes on display here, complete with even a few jump scares, which was something I was very pleased the first film didn’t have
– the minor modification to the Man in the Mask’s head-sack (he has a slightly more pronounced smile in this sequel) lessened his effect in some ways. The motives from the first film (aka “Because you were home”) make more sense if the sack’s face is more indifferent than pleased

Should you see this film: Outside of the absolute top-tier soundtrack, I can’t say there was a huge amount on offer here. I preferred the first movie in almost every way, and when this one was finished all I wanted to do was re-watch the original. Horror movie fans might find something, but for anyone not already as deep in the genre as I am, it is worth a miss.

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