Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: Rear right
Attendance: About 30
Food: Popcorn, Coke, Milk Duds from concession
Pre-show ads: Chrysler, Telus
Trailers: The Happening, American Teen, Traitor, Righteous Kill
Stung by her rejection of his marriage proposal, James Hoyt (Ashton Kutcher) takes his girlfriend Kristen (Cameron Diaz) to his father’s country place in rural Pennsylvania for a few hours of sleep after attending someone else’s wedding. The evening goes about as far from his expectations as possible when they are subsequently stalked by a trio of masked home invaders who are looking for the last house on the left.
This is no ordinary stalking. The strangers apparently have some kind of ninja training that allows them to disappear and reappear at will, glide silently over the ground, walk through doors and windows, and so on. It is creepy the first time; but after an hour of cat and mouse where very little happens, I found myself wishing for a more direct approach.
The peek-a-boo game played by The Strangers is also annoying when you consider that the film goes through contortions at the beginning to make it appear as if it is based directly on a recent, documented crime. The handheld camera effect is so overused that I started to wonder if I was having a stroke.
I have mixed feelings about this sort of horror movie. In a genre where the competition consists of weak remakes of Prom Night or formula sequels to SAW, The Strangers at least appears to have some originality going for it, and its script is designed to maintain a level of constant tension as opposed to the usual ups and downs employed in dead teenager movies.
The problem with constant tension is that it inevitably ends in a letdown. The fate of James and Kristen is strongly implied by the introduction; when it finally happens, it is banal and anticlimactic. I suppose senseless murder usually is. The clumsy setup for sequels was not a welcome conclusion.
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, the actual crime that “inspired” The Strangers was a series of home invasions and murders attributed to The Manson Family in the 1960s. Another film springs to mind that attempts the same kind of “true” story telling with much greater success: Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer. Hopefully a remake is not on the way.
Crowd reaction at end of movie: None
Credit cookie?: none
For further consideration: the music in the film is generally good, but often distracting; whose parents have a vinyl copy of the Mermaid Avenue album lying around?
Opening next week: Wall-E, Wanted, Finding Amanda
Hoping for: Wall-E