Advance Screening: The Strangers: Prey at Night
Runtime: 100mins | Director: Johannes Roberts | Rating: 1 Star
As some of you may know, Odeon occasionally do a fun event called ‘Odeon Screen Unseen’. The premise, as you’ve likely guessed, is they screen a film ahead of its release date. The catch, however, is that you don’t know what film you’re going to see until the titles start to roll.
This week though, they did ‘Scream Unseen’ – the same premise, just with a horror film. Oh, Odeon – you’re so witty!
Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I think this is a very fun idea. Unless, of course, the film turns out to be awful like it did for me.
Rather than getting to see the upcoming Hereditary which I had hoped and prey’d (okay, I’m done.), it would be, instead, we were served The Strangers: Prey at Night.
Sequel to the 2008 indie horror, The Strangers, the film tells the story of a family who goes on a road trip and ends up being stalked by a family of psychopathic killers wearing masks.
Sound familiar? It should. It is one of the most unoriginal, boring and lazy films I have ever had the displeasure of seeing.
Now, usually I try and find balance in my reviews, but this one has riled me up so I will be holding no prisoners – much like the antagonists in the film.
The last review I wrote was on A Quiet Place – a horror film which not only received praise for its originality from myself, but people across the globe. Sure, it had its flaws, but it was a well-made horror film which did something different. I admired that and it was necessary amid a genre cluttered with unoriginality.
The Strangers: Prey at Night, however, is the polar opposite.
Having read a few reviews myself after seeing it I have noticed some people saying it’s a nicely stylised satire of the 80’s horror genre.
Don’t believe them.
Perhaps this is what the film intended to be, but in the end, didn’t come close. The very fact I didn’t realise that is what they were trying to do whilst watching it proves this. It wasn’t scary, it wasn’t funny, it wasn’t enjoyable – it was boring.
Sure, it harked back to the 80’s, but it did so in a negative way. The power ballads which are constantly blasted out whilst characters are draped in neon light drain any tension that it starts to build and the title scene, in my opinion, was blatant plagiarism of Stranger Things. At least try and be subtle if you’re going to copy!
If I see a horror film, I want to be scared at the very least. I was sat through The Strangers: Prey at Night yawning and shaking my head in disdain. Maybe I have seen too many horror films now and it’s my own fault, but every single jump ‘scare’ I saw coming a mile off. It was as if they weren’t even trying…
Not only did the film fail at being scary, but it also failed to engage me at all.
Part of what made the original The Strangers so haunting was the fact the killers had no backstory or real motivation – in fact, their only motivation was the fact “you were home.” This to me is more sinister than anything else they could have produced – violence for violence’s sake. And this is what Prey at Night tries to replicate but butchers horribly.
The Strangers: Prey at Night embraces every single negative and unoriginal horror trope imaginable and revels in them whilst the audience lulls back, bored. It’s the cinematic equivalent of someone telling you a terrible joke and laughing at themselves whilst you sit there stony-faced. This coupled with the fact there is no backstory leaves little for you to enjoy or feel invested in.
Perhaps you’re hoping the film can be redeemed by characters that you at least feel attached to and sympathise with? No.
Just like the film itself, the characters have no substance either. They are the stereotypical characters almost every horror film has: a sullen, bratty girl going through an emo phase; a cool jock, and two loving, underappreciated parents. In fact, the only trope this film doesn’t embrace is having a black character who dies almost immediately.
Usually, I’d end my review by suggesting you go and see the film yourself to make your own mind up, but for once, my advice is don’t waste your money. If you feel the need to put yourself through this woeful cinematic experience, rent it. At least you’ll save half your money.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is boring, lazily written, unengaging and not at all scary. In fact, the only scare you’ll be getting is the shock of just how bad it is.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Strangers Prey at Night is released 04/05/18
To watch the trailer – click here