review – ‘the strangers: prey at night’

Want to see a horrible film about crazed serial killers with no motives going around wearing masks and wielding axes for no reason other than madness and stupidity?

Director Johannes Roberts incorporates 80s new wave and electronic synth-pop classic songs to serve as the music that ingrains the psychology of these crazed killers as they stalk their ‘prey’. If you love eighties music, it won’t affect you in a negative way. You’ll only be reminded of the cool soundtrack and how it doesn’t blend with the films terrible subject matter. Ultra-cool eighties music over horror scenes make absolutely no sense and it was asynchronous as it didn’t match the pace or tempo of the film.

Cindy and Mike (Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson) are the parents of a teenage kids Luke and Kinsey (Lewis Pullman and Bailee Madison) who go on a road trip because they’re sending their daughter Kinsey to boarding school due to her troubled youth. Along the way, they stop at a trailer park where they intend on staying the night with other family members. Only to find that those family members have been murdered by the trio of masked serial killers.

The film’s only memorable scene is due to its filmmaking style at the trailer park swimming pool surrounded by fake palm trees and Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse’ playing on the soundtrack as Luke battles the axe wielding psychopath in the pool. The entire sequence is unique in its execution and result. Once we think he’s dead, his siter Kinsey rescues him.

Johannes Roberts’ film appeared to be shot in 16mm, using title cards on the opening credits reminiscent of seventies films and with theme music heavily influenced and inspired by John Carpenters’ Halloween theme. Roberts likes to use wide shots with slow zooms creeping in on the characters in very much a cinematic type of filmmaking technique as opposed to jarring cuts in the editing.

The way character’s get killed off are entirely implausible and ridiculous. Human nature has a natural survival instinct. When under attack, we at least attempt to run, hide, crawl, fight back, we naturally do something. Not for the characters in this movie. They just stand there and let the unintimidating little girl wearing a mask stab them to death with a knife. An unbelievable plot-point.  

The mother and daughter arrive back to the trailer to find their cell phone screens cracked and broken, but the tires on their van are still filled with air. The killers don’t want them to call the cops, but still give them power to escape a in a vehicle; makes no sense.

This film is part of a terrible franchise designed to steer teenagers to buy tickets to a horror film on date night. Aside from the scene at the pool where Roberts shows us his creativity in cinematography styles and directing, the rest of the film is an incredible waste of time.

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