Sunday 18 July 2010

Movie Review: The Strangers (2008)

For a horror movie to work, adhering to certain principles can be helpful. The murder and mayhem can be quick and sudden, to create the "who, when and where next" slasher-type tension; or it can be excruciatingly drawn out, in which case the audience expects some delving into the reasons why the killers are taking their sweet time to get the job done.

Halfway through The Strangers, it becomes apparent that the movie is trying to get away with extending the prelude to murder for the entire length of the movie, with no intellectual pay-off. The three masked killers remain faceless, voiceless, and lacking in motive, in which case the only reason to prolong the killing is to toy with the moviegoers.

The film is simply not good enough for that. Essentially a series of cliched "what's that sound in this spooky isolated house" scenes, The Strangers bumps along offering very little that is new, as Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman attempt to fend off three masked intruders who seem capable of finishing their murderous handiwork at any instant, but are waiting for about 90 minutes to pass so that the union guys can get paid.

Liv Tyler goes through the movie wondering if she really gave up a modeling career for nonsense like this. Scott Speedman appears to be wondering when he can cash his cheque and move on to the next movie in his non-career. Bryan Bertino, directing from his script, first connects the dense dots and then paints by numbers to ensure that no old idea is left unrecycled.

The final proof of innovative bankruptcy arrives with yet another horror movie dead body coming suddenly and inexplicably alive in the last scene before fade-out. Guys, this was old in the 1980's.

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