Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Strangers


So, I had the opportunity to screen this one in advance, and I have to say I really liked it, despite some flaws.

Personally, the horror genre, as of late, has offered little of interest: the endless parade of remakes and sequels don't interest me, and the "torture porn" genre just doesn't get what equals scary to me. Often, the use of silence and dread is what works, not massive amounts of gore. And while there is certainly some blood shed in the film, it doesn't revel in it like so many others do.

Oddly enough, on paper, this film would've seemed incredibly skippable to me, but once I saw the trailer, I was instantly hooked, though prepared to be disappointed when I walked into the theater. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman aren't exactly actors who are going to interest me based on their attachment to the film, and the premise is not that far away from countless other horror films or thrillers. But, I think this is a case where a familiar story is told and shot so well, that I admired it right away.

First, before the action is set in motion, I liked how the story unfolded. It has elements not unlike a small, thoughtful indie movie. Speedman and Tyler are given enough room to let us into their characters so we care before the shit hits the fan. And without giving anything away, in most horror films, I just find myself wanting to yell at the screen because the characters just act so incredibly stupid. This time, though, they seemed to be somewhat bright, and even their missteps seem to be the result of sheer panic more than anything else.

I also really liked the production values... it just seemed so fitting. The yellowed images seem to fit the situation. The music all worked without being overbearing or cluing you into the fact that "something scary is about to happen!"

Now, it does have it's flaws, and one of the biggest, for me, would be the final moment, which seems to be meant as a throwback/possible homage to a 70's horror film, but it has been copied so often that it seems to be less than what the film deserves, after having been smart so long. But it wasn't enough of a detraction for me to deride the film, since I liked so much of what preceded it. While part of my embracing the film relies on so much upon avoiding what most horror films don't do, it was a minor disappointment to see that be the end note you walk out of the theater with. But, for me, it just really worked, and I was not in the least bit let down here.

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