The Strangers: Prey at Night
Time Out says
Bland, artless and unoriginal, it's a horror sequel as faceless as its mask-wearing killers.
A sequel to 2008’s spooky The Strangers in baby-doll masks alone, director Johannes Roberts’s generic slasher film flaunts a deep nostalgia for John Carpenter’s Halloween and Christine, but scant ideas of its own. It desperately wants you to pretend that these fog-laden midnight streets—perfect for chase scenes involving relentless knife-wielding nuts and a terrified teenage girl (TV actor Bailee Madison, who really should learn how to flee without panting so loudly)—are as fresh as a daisy. As for composer Adrian Johnston’s seesawing synthesizer score, Carpenter’s lawyers will be in touch directly. In a moment when horror movies like Get Out and the forthcoming Hereditary earn praise for their adventurousness, these retro scares feel especially out of touch.
Then again, maybe you’re in the mood to smile at the obviousness of a family driving into a deserted trailer park where their re-bonding getaway is doomed to fail. Perhaps there’s a thrill to be had when they discover that their cell phones have been smashed—what?—by unseen interlopers. Possibly you’re the type who loves the “ironic” deployment of a parade of ’80s cheese classics: Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America,” Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Even if your standards are this low, you won’t find any pleasure in the film’s wasting of Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks (trapped in a disposable mom part), or the perverse way this movie eschews any of the slow-burn scares that made the first Strangers admirable.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Cast and crew