Autumn and winter are the perfect seasons for scary films, and one of the most terrifying ones out on DVD at the moment is the recently-released psychological horror film The Strangers, starring Liv Tyler. This film is one to watch at night with the lights out, but be warned: you will be frightened.
The movie’s premise is simple enough: it’s the tale of a young couple, and the details of what happens to them when they’re alone one night and strange things begin to occur. That may sound pretty vague, but I really don’t want to give away any more than that, if you haven’t seen the film yet, because details will certainly spoil it in this case.
Suffice it to say there is much suspense; at one point I was actually crawling up the arm of the sofa with anxiety, trying to get everything to go how I wanted it to go. Even my boyfriend, who isn’t scared by anything, later said that he thought it was pretty intense.
Although there is some gore, The Strangers is much like the classic horror films of decades past in that it relies mostly on suspense and imagination to generate fear. There are a lot of times where what you can’t see is scarier than what you can, and where your mind has to fill in the blanks of what’s going on off-screen.
Most often I found myself being frightened at the idea of what might happen, and that’s a rare thing indeed given the tendency of modern horror films to spell it all out with nothing left to look forward to.
The dialogue is sparse, and special effects are kept to a minimum; the audience is given credit for being smart enough to handle realism and figure things out on their own, which I appreciate. I waited until after I saw the film to read the reviews, and frankly I was shocked at how many critics didn’t like the film or found it mediocre.
I thought the casting was superb, and that Liv Tyler gave a fine performance — in fact, I remarked immediately after I saw the film that I had no idea she was such a capable actress. She was both believable and likable throughout, and I was on her side all the way.
I thought the setting of the film was also well-chosen, and the cinematography and script were both outstanding. For me the film certainly outperformed most horror films, and was even up there with some of the better psychological thrillers I’ve seen.
I would certainly recommend this film if you like to be scared out of your skull, but not so much if you’re more into romantic comedies. If you want to see The Strangers, it’s out on DVD and is in stores everywhere.
There are two versions, one which is rated R for bloody violence, and an unrated version which is even more extreme, and not for the faint of heart. Personally I loved the unrated version, but it’s only for those who really, really like to be scared, and definitely not for anyone under the age of 18.