Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Strangers


The Strangers is a full on movie going experience. Twice at the screening I attended this weekend the audience gasped at a scary moment in unison. That's the kind of thrills you cannot transfer to a DVD setting. One person getting the shit scared out of them does not create any kind of theatrical ripple.
Although The Strangers could fairly be called Funny Games Lite it tends to not provoke and thus piss its audience off. Funny Games, in my view a superior film, played havoc with Brechtian technique that, for some, took them out of the movie. The Strangers runs its course in a straight arrow fashion, this is thriller territory with a horror genre topping. A couple, Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, arrive at a country house to party. In bits and pieces we deduce that what started as a romantic evening has turned into a final breakup. As the night progresses the house comes under siege from three crazed individuals all wearing masks. The beginning shots of the film show us the aftermath and a tragic series of shots it is.
The film has economy and style: there are only eight actors and one location. When Liv is hiding in a closet the psychos put on a record like "Mama Tried" and its scratchy warbling only adds to the terror. The creepiness doesn't rely on shock cuts or rapid imagery but rather moments like slow brooding silence broken by loud banging on the front door. This may be the first wide release ever to feature Blue Bell Ice Cream in the position of product placement.
Before all is said and done you will find yourself saying things to the screen like "Call 911" or "Get the fuck out of the house." And that's a good thing.

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