Sinister Screens

The Strangers (2008) ★★★★

The Strangers


After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and haunting voices, Kristen McKay and James Hoyt’s remote getaway becomes a psychological night of terror as three masked strangers invade. Now they must go far beyond what they thought themselves capable of if they hope to survive.


When it comes to storytelling, simplicity is the key to creating classic works. So many movies possess complex storylines that get tangled up with a lack of clarity, diminishing plots and characterization. The Strangers is brilliantly minimalistic in bringing about maximum terror. It’s a classic in the slasher / home invasion subgenre of horror and earns that merit, even more so with every subsequent viewing.

Liv Tyler stars in this film, being a vulnerable, precious, light-spoken victim who is forced to fight for survival while her boyfriend (played by Scott Speedman) plays the broken-hearted yet supportive significant other. Both actors capture the essence of everyday people doing mundane, typical things when, from out of nowhere, their lives are torn apart from a random act of violence. There is no rationalization here. Towards the end of the movie, we hear the blunt explanation to the question of “why are you doing this?” as we get the cold response: “Because you were home.”

Director Bryan Bertino produces a masterclass in building terror and not sinking into the doldrums of slow-burning viewers into a stupor of numbness. What’s great about this film is that at least a third of the movie is without any real violence or action, but displays the proper building of dread that leaves viewers with a jump-scare from the slightest of knocks.

I wanted to rewatch and enjoy this film one more time before the next movie (The Strangers: Chapter 1) is released theatrically in May 2024. As with the the sequel to The Strangers, Bryan Bertino remains as one of the writers, which makes this one of my most anticipated new releases of the year.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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