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Stranger Things Have Happened

The Strangers: Prey at Night follows a new family that falls victim to the same crazed, masked family of three that stalks its victims in the night. The mother (Christina Hendricks) and father (Martin Henderson) try to do everything they can to save their children from their fate at the hands of these knife and axe-wielding maniacs.

The Strangers: Prey at Night Review

This unplanned sequel goes about as well as you'd expect, especially considering that it follows a predictable slasher format full of one-dimensional serial killers. There's practically nothing you can expect to gain in originality from this movie. But I think we know that going in. So what do we hope for? The same level of suspense, that subtle horror in the cinematography, the atmospheric build, the realism in the approach...and unfortunately we get very little of that.

I found the original to be a great film in the slasher genre. Its moments of realism and surrealism in the behavior of the serial killers is some of the best I can recall. It is a divided film, but I've found for the most part that it was a success. But everything that I thought was effective in that film only carried over to this half-hearted sequel in snippets.

The build simply isn't there. And I guess that makes sense, because we all know they exist and what they're about from the first film. And I suppose that makes this sequel doomed from the start. So the creators knew this and embraced it, opening the sequel with our masked perpetrators haunting an elderly couple, which reminded me of the opening scene of Idle Hands more than The Strangers. I could tell right then that this movie simply wasn't going to carry the same weight and mystique of the original.

Most sequels shouldn't be held in the same breath as the original film, but The Conjuring series is a perfect example of how it can be done right. Prey at Night is an example of how it can be done wrong. It follows all the basic tropes of the genre, behaving more often like a B/C-movie than an indie flick with an edge. Hendricks and Henderson aren't enough to carry the distressed family, and the sub-plot of their deteriorating dynamic with their children pales in comparison to Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler's relationship in the first film. The genuine nature of the victims simply isn't palpable in the sequel, and it makes all their distress less believable and empathy-inducing.

I'd heard hype about the infamous "pool scene", and I would consider it the highlight of the film. It's a very unique set with a handful of twists and some thrilling moments. It isn't enough to save an entire film of predictability. The film did rock a soundtrack that purposefully clashes with its suspenseful scenes, and while this is becoming a common trend, this film proves it still has yet to lose its luster.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Had this film changed the look of its slashers and released it under a solo title, I would've been more lenient. But it didn't, so it's held to some level of a standard to the first film. And instead of getting that vibe I was hoping for, I got a more generic slasher piece that happens to have the same villains in a similar environment. And it appears that unlike Saw and The Purge, apparently, this formula won't hold up for an inordinate amount of sequels.

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 8/10

Horror Quality: 6/10

Film Quality: 5/10

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