Cast : Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman
Direction : Bryan Bertino
Rating : ***
There’s good news for horror geeks. Although the plot strikes us as a hybrid of the recent Kate Beckinsale chiller Vacancy, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and the still-to-be-released French flick Then, this frightmare effectively stokes a creeping sense of dread. The faint-hearted may even want to sleep with the lights on after being jolted by The Strangers.
A considerable part of the thriller’s appeal lies in its spare style and supple craftsmanship. First-time writer-director Bertino sustains a super-charged atmosphere. Using widescreen images to unsettling effect, he cuts to a tension -fraught cat-and-mouse game between a young couple (Tyler-Speedman) and a trio of masked tormentors.
The victims are spending the night at an isolated country house after returning late from a wedding reception. Their lives turn topsy-turvy after a girl knocks on the door, and is shortly joined by two accomplices.
A violent struggle ensues as the duo strives to escape from the sadistic invaders. Unfortunately, the subsequent goings-on degenerate into a formulaic action scenario before petering out in an anti-climatic last act.
Still, The Strangers makes for riveting viewing, commanding our interest for most of its 90-minutes running time.