"This horror is highly entertaining and a lot of fun, even if it does rely on clichés"
The first instalment of The Strangers was brought to us in 2008 and starred Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a couple who are terrorised by masked psychopaths while staying at a remote vacation home. Now, ten years later, its writer and director Bryan Bertino has written a sequel, directed by 47 Meters Down’s Johannes Roberts.
The Strangers: Prey at Night stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman as a family who spend the night at a secluded mobile home park run by their relatives. However, it appears the vacation spot is totally empty – except for three masked psychopaths who turn their trip into a nightmare.
The first film was truly terrifying and pretty serious, whereas the second is more fun and entertaining. It is still a horror, but it takes a more light-hearted approach and produces plenty of laughs as well as scares. It’s hard to say whether all the laughs were intentional and if we were laughing with it or at it, because at times, it seems like it’s sending up the horror genre and its tropes, while at others it feels like it’s fallen into the clichés without realising.
Regardless of whether it is deliberate or not, Prey at Night is best not to be taken too seriously. True horror fans might be disappointed that it’s not as shocking as the first, but it makes sense to do it this way. The sequel was never going to be as shocking or disturbing as the first, because we’ve seen it before, but also because we’ve had films like The Purge since then, which feels quite similar.
That being said, there are still plenty of scares to be had with Prey at Night. There are some jumps, it does well at building a sense of dread and suspense and it doesn’t let up at all – the characters genuinely don’t get a break once it all kicks off. There are also some gruesome bits, though not quite as wince-inducing as the original.
The script tries hard to set up the family dynamics and characters in the beginning to try and make you care when their vacation all goes wrong, but I wasn’t invested in them at the start. After a while though, after they’ve been through so much, you do start to get behind them and will them to sort these psychopaths out once and for all.
Madison is basically the star of the show. She’s the troubled daughter who is being taken to boarding school and she treats her family badly, so obviously she had to have the big redemption arc. The parents and son are decent but they aren’t really fleshed out characters and are pretty much always reacting to the daughter, who is a tad stereotypical in her obnoxious levels. She is very annoying in the beginning but you can’t help but root for her after a while.
The Strangers: Prey at Night isn’t as terrifying and disturbing as the original, for better or worse. It is highly entertaining and a lot of fun, even if it does rely on some clichés.