STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT should be the poster boy of what NOT to do when you make a horror movie sequel to a beloved original film. The first Strangers film is bleak, horrifying, and pretty damn scary because it has a eerily realistic tone and feel to it. Strangers 2 throws all of that garbage out the window and, except for a really well done pool fight scene with the song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing in the background, is a fucking disaster. The film is completely unrealistic, it’s eerie factor from the first film is gone replaced by cheap jump scares and bizarre chase tactics, and all the characters constantly contradict their previous characterization choices. It is mind numbing, dull, and very annoying.
The one really good scare the film had going for it, the movie trailer and all the television spots out there ruin it. It takes place where a character, played by Bailee Madison, is in sort of this construction concrete/maybe plastic circle, with good lighting and camera work. Ruined… because they decided its all they really had and put it in the fucking marketing. Whatever, it isn’t the main problem with this film. The main, main, main, main problem, is that the took the realistic, scary Strangers that stalk and kill for absolutely no reason at all, and turned them into superhuman horror movie like monsters such as Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. One of the characters takes a such gun blast point blank to the chest, and survives long enough to be able to say “why not?” when one character asks, “why are you doing this?” I understand that THOSE characters don’t know why they are doing this, but the audience already does if they’ve more than likely seen the first film, so we didn’t really need that dialogue to begin with.
Oh, and another one of the Strangers not only survives a car explosion, but after falling to the ground after taking a giant piece of glass out of his chest, is able to, two minutes, later, catch up to the running teen he was stalking and be able to hand on to a moving vehicle while still swinging his stupid ax. It is insulting not only to the vicious killers as characters, but it is insulting to the audience, hoping for a realistic follow up to a pretty damn good first film. I do understand that the filmmakers were trying to give the audience what they wanted, by making most of the Strangers finally get a comeuppance of sorts for their murderous psychopathic behavior, but I feel as if they could’ve still done it in a more down to Earth way like the first. Turning your killers into walking entities that almost can’t be killed takes away any and all tension your film had in the first place.
Oh, if you needed to know, this movie is about a family that is on their way to take their daughter to a boarding school because she is a hot mess in real life (gee, we’ve seen that one before haven’t we?), and stop by their Aunt and Uncle’s trailer park getaway place to spend the night, only to be stalked and killed by The Strangers. Stupid and un-creative set up huh? Surely everyone involved could’ve come up with something better than cliche upon cliche upon utter cliche of shit done thousands of times in the 80s and 90s right? I understand that horror films don’t care anymore and just need a basic set up to get to the killing because the film is a short 85 minutes long, but I mean, I feel that everyone coughing up their money to see your movie should maybe get little better nuggets of realism than what this film did.
Other than the pool scene mentioned above, everything about this movie is just rushed and lazy. Did I forget to mention that after his mom and dad are seemingly just killed, and he has one of The Strangers dead to right with a working loaded gun pointed right at her face, he doesn’t pull the trigger? Are you fucking kidding me? I don’t think anyone in their right mind would’ve hesitated and shot the full clip into that bitch. Especially when ten minutes later he’s stabbing one of them like his life depended on it, and because he didn’t kill the other a cop gets his throat slit. It’s stupid and insulting. All of it. Even the acting, the parents are stupid and non believable and Bailee Madison is there to just scream and run. Not too intricate.
This is a horror series that didn’t need a sequel. When saying it is “based/inspired on true events,” they are stretching those true events to dimensions wayyyy beyond fiction. Doing some research, there aren’t really Strangers out there, the filmmaker based the first film on that Manson-Tate murders and a couple of non violent break ins in his neighborhood when he was a kid. But the first film still worked due to its realism, so why couldn’t they have just stuck with that for the second film? Why up the ante in all the wrong ways? Let’s hope they make this franchise a real stranger, one that we never have to see ever again.