The Strangers (2008) - Unrated

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Universal || Unrated - 87 minutes - $29.98 || October 21, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-10-23


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Bryan Bertino
Writer(s): Bryan Bertino (written by)
Cast: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler


Theatrical Release Date: May 30, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The Elements of Terror
  • Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Writer/director Bryan Bertinoís psychological thriller, The Strangers, is a throwback to the Hitchcock classics with modern day suspense.

The Strangers is a simple film starring Scott Speed and Liv Tyler as James Hoyt and Kristen McKay, a couple whose relationship, as the movie starts, is on the brinks of breakup. Theyíve come from a wedding reception and are staying the night at Hoytís family summer home. Things get worse when at 4 a.m. they get a knock at the door from a young woman who has apparently gotten the wrong house (she didnít) and apparently leaves as quickly as she came (again, she didnít).

Even after this semi-unsettling encounter, Kristen badly needs cigarettes and being the dutiful soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, James goes out to get them. While heís away, strange things begin to happen as there are more knocks at the door, windows, other weird sounds around the house and... somebody apparently has gotten inside! After being terrorized for a bit, James finally comes home to find Kristen in absolute hysterics and soon the terror begins once again as three masked STRANGERS have sabotaged any kind of escape from burning the car, destroying cell phones and cutting the phone line. Theyíve also broken down the oddly fragile front door so any refuge inside has been thwarted.

The Strangers was actually a surprisingly great suspense thriller that keeps you hooked from start to finish. The movie has a running time of 85 minutes (not inc. credits) and it is masterfully paced and written, even with a simple story. Add to that a fine performance from Liv Tyler who I barely recognize voice-wise, does an excellent job going beyond just a scream queen.

As someone who loves psychological thrillers, I basically loved every minute of this movie. Itís a film that did well at the box office earning $52.6m on a $9m budget. Yet it is still somehow underrated on sites like IMDb (6.3/10). I think this has more to do with peopleís expectations that this is Saw-lite or something, but it isnít and outside of some blood and a fairly nasty climax, this is a thriller all the way.

With Halloween approaching, The Strangers is the perfect scary movie to watch with other classics like Halloween, Scream and, if youíre a fan, Friday the 13th. I hope that one day this movie will be remembered as itís a special experience when a film doesnít succumb to the standards of the new thriller and goes with a classical style of storytelling. I highly recommend checking this one out, even if itís only a rental.

On a side note, why is it so many homes in these movies, and in real life for that matter, do not have peep holes? Would make things so much easier for folks being randomly terrorized by three masked crazies...

Note: According to the back cover, the unrated version is 2-minutes longer.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The DVD includes a couple Deleted Scenes (4:56) and The Elements of Terror (9:12) Ďmaking-ofí featurette. Disappointing there wasnít more here like a filmmakersí commentary.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The Strangers is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 OAR. The picture looks pretty good with black levels not washed out and colors not overly saturated. It looks like an overall fine transfer with no noticeable dust marks.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 is solid with dialogue and ambient noises coming through the speakers sound good and the sub woofer gets quite the workout, so much so your windows will shake.



.::OVERALL::.

The Strangers is easily one of the most terrifying movies Iíve seen in a while. There are elements that throwback to the days of Hitchcock, where the things you donít see are more frightening than what is shown. In this case the movie is 88 minutes of pure terror that is perfect for a dark stormy night.