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Most folks in my social circle are fully aware of my inability to watch scary movies. And it’s not that I don’t like them, because I very often think they’re fantastic, but my suspension of disbelief is so powerful that I become an 11 year-old girl when I watch a horror movie (complete with the high-pitched squealing). I will only watch them on DVD, and only early in the morning so I can see the sunshine and have many hours to cleanse my palette of the terror. So, when we asked for a copy of “The Strangers,” I was happy when it arrived and up to the challenge. I even watched it at night with Patrick (flying solo is for the advanced class).
The film centers on a young couple (James Hoyt and Kristen McKay – played by Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler), who have just left a friend’s wedding and decide to spend the night in the country house where James grew up. It’s uber-quiet and there are no signs of neighbors, dog, birds, nothing. These two are a not-so-happy couple as he has just proposed and she wasn’t feelin’ it. They are soon terrorized by a trio of masked attackers, first doing creepy little stuff like knocking at the door and just not leaving, then breaking out the hardware.
What makes this film such a good addition to the horror genre is tri-fold. First, you have genuine characters of interest, who you would watch in a proper drama as easily as a Halloween film. Then, you have the narrative (from writer/director, Bryan Bertino) which relishes in the stillness and the quiet that reminds me that I will live the rest of my life in huge cities as I can’t handle the crickets. Finally, the attacking is scary, but because it is not very special. There are no innovative torture techniques going on here like we’ll see in the “Saw” films. The violence in “The Strangers” is very practical and completely unnecessary. When Kristen asks one of their captors why they are doing this, why them, why?…the simple response is: “Because you were home.”
And then I had to change my trousers.