As you may or may not know, Strangers: Prey At Night was one of my most anticipated horror films of the year, and I finally got to go see it. The title card and music were very reminiscent of 80s horror, and got the movie started off on the right foot, making me excited for what was to come. In the 2008 original, The Strangers, a young couple is terrorized by three masked people while staying in a secluded home. The Strangers: Prey At Night keeps the same basic premise of people being basically hunted by these masked killers, with no one close by to help, but changes things up a little bit by this time targeting a family of four: a mom, dad, teenage son, and younger teenage daughter, and it all taking place in an empty trailer park. These things that seem like just a couple of small changes allowed the film to be it’s own and not just a copy and paste of the original.
I think using a family with teenagers this time around was a smart move, and it was very interesting to see their family dynamic play out and change throughout the film, from a family that is struggling to stay together to a tight knit loving family that would do anything to protect each other. The parents were played by Madmen star Christina Hendricks, and Grey’s Anatomy, and The Ring star Martin Henderson, and while they were great in their roles, it was the young star playing their daughter who truly shined. Bailee Madison plays the young daughter in The Strangers: Prey At Night, while Lewis Pullman plays her brother. Growing up I frequently saw Bailee Madison star in family movies or children’s tv shows, and while she has still kept a very steady acting career I haven’t seen any of her recent work and didn’t know what to expect from her in this film, and it’s safe to say she doesn’t disappoint. I thought Madison and Pullman worked extremely well together, and with their parents, and killers. Among the killers, I found the man in the mask, played by Damian Maffei, to have the strongest performance. The man in the mask may have been the only one of the three killers to be completely silent the entirety of their rampage, but I found him to be the most emotive with the use of his body language, and therefore also the creepiest killer of the bunch. He reminded me a lot of Michael Myers or Jason. Although, I do feel that a big reason why the man in the mask was a better character was the writing, and that the women characters just didn’t have as much material to work with anyway, which already put the man in the mask a step ahead of them, then Maffei’s performance just solidified the fact that he was the best killer.
As I mentioned before, the different setting also added a lot more to the film. It was set in a trailer park, where no other people were staying besides our main family, with many trailers spread around a large area of land, that also included a playground, an office/shop, and swimming pool.
Another thing I really loved in this sequel that was different from the original was the use of the music. Throughout the film you, and the characters would hear familiar songs playing during the action, and they will definitely be stuck in your head afterwards. There was also a scene that instantly reminded me of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and if that was intentional was a great little homage to the horror classic. The only thing I had any issue with in the film was this really weird and random zoom in the camera did at one point that I felt did not fit in with the rest of the cinematography at all, and it actually pulled me out of the movie for a second. I for one would totally be down to see another follow up to The Strangers, and actually thought of a really cool premise to one that would go into why these masked people kill because I misheard a line in the film and thought that’s where they were going with things, but alas, I’m just deaf.
The Strangers: Prey At Night is a fun action packed slasher film compared to the first Strangers film which was more of a slow burn game of cat and mouse between the couple and the killers.
I give The Strangers: Prey At Night 4/5 stars.
You can watch our episode of THS LIVES! with special guest Damian Maffei on Facebook or Youtube!