Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Strangers

Bryan Bertino's The Strangers is a confounding film. It sets up a pretty standard horror-film premise. A young couple drives to a cabin the guy's parents use as a summer home. It's in the middle of the woods and empty. There are strange knocks at the door and people wearing masks begin terrorizing the couple. There are literally thousands of interesting cinematic opportunities with this premise, and The Strangers does exactly zero of them. Once the evil strangers make themselves known, not a single thing happens for the next 50-60 minutes of the film. I could actually write out the entire second act of the movie in about two sentences and you'd think: "How did they manage to spend an hour only doing that?"

Liv Tyler spends about half the movie walking slowly around the house, peering behind corners, when a killer jumps out! The killer frightens her and then....doesn't kill her. Then the next scene there's another killer who jumps out and...doesn't do anything. It gets really tiresome after awhile.

Oh my god that's so scary! That killer is right behind Liv Tyler! I totally wouldn't suspect that this film is full of images like this that never go anywhere!

There's more to the "story" I suppose. I could tell you that Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman were at a wedding before they arrived at the cabin, that Speedman asked Tyler to marry him and she said no and they're not sure where to go from there. I could tell you that, but there's really no point to any of it. It's really just a way for the director to put a good 18 minutes of nothing in before the "strangers" show up. Oh, and the cabin is full of hip indie albums on vinyl (Do your parents own records by Joanna Newsom and Richard Buckner?)

Whenever I see a film that tends to bide its time through the second act, I always think that they must have some killer twist ending saved up to try and make up for it. The Strangers doesn't. It goes and goes and goes and ends.

There are worse ways to spend $11.50 I guess.

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