The Strangers (2008)

I was about to write my own review on The Strangers until I remembered an article Stephen King wrote in the back of one of my Entertainment Weekly issues, so I pulled it out and realized he said everything I wanted to (just a little bit better).  He explains why Hollywood is not able to make scary movies and uses this movie as an example:

Horror is an unknown actress, perhaps the girl next door, cowering in a cabin with a knife in her hands we know she’ll never be able to use. Horror is the scene in The Strangers where Liv Tyler tries to hide beneath the bed…and discovers she can’t fit there.

One more problem: Big movies demand big explanations, which are usually tiresome, and big backstories, which are usually cumbersome. If a studio is going to spend $80 or $100 million in hopes of making $300 or $400 million more, they feel a need to shove WHAT IT ALL MEANS down the audience’s throat. Is there a serial killer? Then his mommy didn’t love him (insert flashback). A monster from outer space? Its planet exploded, of course (and the poor misunderstood thing probably needs a juicy Earth woman to make sexy with). But nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.

That’s why I can’t imagine that anything in X-Files will match Liv Tyler’s exchange with one of the masked home invaders in one particularly terrifying scene of The Strangers.

”Why are you doing this to us?” she whispers.

To which the woman in the doll-face mask responds, in a dead and affectless voice: ”Because you were home.”

In the end, that’s all the explanation a good horror film needs.


And that is why I loved The Strangers.




~ by elizabeth on October 15, 2008.

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