Throughout Shocktober, I plan on writing about a ton of different movies. Some of them I watch every year and some will be first viewings. To kick off Shocktober, I chose something familiar. A staple of the Shocktober holiday for me. The Strangers…
Every now and then I’ll find myself driving through the country. Living in Indiana, a long stretch of country landscape isn’t that hard to come by. Whenever I find myself passing through, I let my mind wander a bit. I wonder what it would be like to live in a house with a few acres of land and 30-40 miles of open road separating me from civilization. I imagine how peaceful it would be to have such a quiet life free of distraction.
Then I remember 2008’s The Strangers, the home invasion movie starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. They play a couple that, after a bad night at a wedding, spend the night in a cozy summer home. From there masked strangers outside of the house taunt them. Soon enough, the strangers gain entry and the couple tries frantically to escape.
I have a thing about slasher movies. I love them but they don’t frighten me. Really, any horror movie that pits people against other, more psychotic, people doesn’t get to me on a fear level. This is simply because I know that a bullet will stop the people trying to kill the protagonists. Villains in most slasher flicks aren’t indestructible or otherworldly. They are people. It’s hard for me to feel fear knowing that the person meant to strike fear in me dropped a deuce after having their morning cup of coffee about 12 hours before their rampage.
I like slasher movies specifically because they are low risk in the fear department. If I watch a slasher movie, I know it’s most likely not going to have a lasting effect on me. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it, though. Sometimes I just want an entertaining thriller with a little violence and suspense. It doesn’t mean I’m going to have trouble sleeping later.
Enter The Strangers.
The Strangers is a unique movie in the sense that it is effectively creepy. It’s a movie about people trying to kill people while managing to instill fear in me. This is a rarity.
The slow camerawork in the movie gives it a great build up of tension. The entire movie was shot with hand-held cameras and the subtle, constant movement really adds to the eerie nature of the movie. That eeriness is carried through to the movie’s very tense finale.
The reason I wanted to watch The Strangers was mostly due to me watching The Purge a few days ago. I’ll save anyone curious the time and just say that The Purge was awful. But it made me appreciate The Strangers (one of several movies it ripped off with no remorse) for the intense, frightening experience that it is.
In The Purge, the main villain is a loony tunes character played by a man who double majored in Overacting and Scene Chewing. His go-to tactic to show he’s a psychopath is to grin like a moron every chance he gets.
Meanwhile in The Strangers, the titular evildoers emote a creepiness that perfectly matches the tension that is being built around the two central characters’ struggle for survival. It’s a great example of various filmmaking elements working in tandem to create something that is a great inclusion to a subgenre of horror that I rarely get to feel the full effect of.
Because of that, I am deeming The Strangers worthy of a “Bargain Buy.” It’s worth the space on your DVD shelf, but horror is the most subjective of genres and thus it may not be for everyone.