16 October, 2008

"The Strangers" Film Review

I saw this film thanks to a friend’s insistence. I can’t say I’m completely disappointed, at least my curiosity is relieved, and it was a good enough reason to go to the mall. The Strangers was released months ago during May in the US, but it just recently showed here in the Philippines.

The Strangers in a horror/slasher film directed and written by Bryan Bertino in 2008. The movie stars Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, and Gemma Ward.

(Spoilers. Spoilers. Spoilers. And even more spoilers. You are duly warned.)

There are tons of (admittedly) scary appearances, creepy scenes, and people scaring other people just for the hell of it. The scare factor in The Strangers is good, but only for a one-time viewing. Needless to say, it’s not rewatchable (I know it’s not a word, bear with me). The meaninglessness of the whole film gets to you after half an hour of watching Liv Tyler crawling around the woods. After a while, I got tired of the chase, hide, and run routine and I just wanted to know why, why, oh why, those masked people were doing what they were doing in such an ugly fashion (somewhat literally, what’s up with that suit?).

Unfortunately, after all that tedious hullabaloo, The Strangers doesn’t quench the audience’s thirst for an answer. Part of me can somewhat grasp that grave psychopathological damage is enough of a motivation for those masked people, maybe they really did just want to kill people for the hell of it, but that is such a cop out reason. Why wear those masks if you’re gonna kill those people anyway? Why remove those masks if you’re gonna kill those people anyway? Why kill those people? Why those people? No answers at all. The Strangers doesn’t even pretend to have any significant reason, it’s just a playground of insanity and malice. The last fifteen minutes of the movie is particularly horrible, in every sense. And, why in the world are those children so frickin creepy? The constant scowl on their faces makes me think that maybe they’re the evil masterminds behind all the madness. I mean really, they didn’t even scream when they saw those bodies, in fact the bodies screamed when they saw the children!

I have to applaud all the actors, Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman, Kip Weeks, Gemma Ward, and Laura Margolis. Tyler and Speedman were convincing. The emotional turmoil they were under even before the masked people came was heartbreaking in itself, and it made a disturbingly touching moment in the end when Speedman’s character, James Hoyt, saw Tyler’s character Kristen McKay wearing the engagement ring. They helped make the pointless movie bearable.

The problem I have with The Strangers is that it wasted a perfectly good opportunity to explore a disturbingly intriguing subject, psychopathic killers. The film was supposedly based on the Manson killers, and Liv Tyler has mentioned that the original script had more scenes with the masked people, so why didn’t they show that instead? All we get in the film is scare factor fodder that gets old after the tenth time we see the masks show up then leave. To be honest, placing myself in that situation, out in the middle of nowhere in an unfamiliar house with insane strangers trying to kill me, just genuinely imagining it scares the crap out of me. What I'm saying is that the film could have been better.

But it wasn't that bad though, the director, Bryan Bertino, made good use of that creepy omg-I-think-someone-is-watching-me-omg-I-think-something-just-touched-me-omg-I-think-someone-is-out-there feeling that you get when you’re alone in an unfamiliar place. Because in this film, someone really is out there. The music was also a good touch for creepiness, the broken record heightens the panic during tense scenes.

Don’t expect any groundbreaking insight into the minds of psychopaths, don’t expect any confusing plot twists and surprises, and don’t expect any happy ending closure goodness. But overall, The Strangers is a good enough flick if you’re looking to waste an afternoon getting an adrenaline rush.

Also, I was quite surprised (and impressed) to find out that the masked people, whose faces the audience never ever saw, are actually really good looking actors.

Gemma Ward, the blonde masked dollface is an Australian model. Ward is reported to be the youngest model ever to be listed as the American Vogue’s “It Girls.”

Laura Margolis the Pin-Up Mask girl, she plays Daisy from Dirty Sexy Money.

Kip Weeks.


Ken said...

nice review about the movie. you're absolutely right about the one-time viewing. It's actually pretty scary but really not the ones you'd watch again. :))

QueenD said...

Nice review homegirl! ;) Kip Weeks' eyes are so creepy! That's all i gotta say hehehe!

Jizzka said...

Haha, thanks guys.