This sequel is certainly an odd one. Set some time after the events of the first film, ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ focuses on the murderous trio carrying out their psychotic behavior in a trailer park, killing anyone they happen to come upon. The family of four that the film follows winds up in the very same trailer park, seeking a place to sleep for the night, but encountering a night they will never forget. Those of you familiar with the first film will find the killer trio’s antics expected and familiar, and those of you who (for some reason) watched this sequel without seeing the original, I recommend you watch the original immediately. While some of the psychological torture is reminiscent of the original, I assure you that the original is miles ahead of this movie in terms of terror and suspense. Don’t let this movie set the tone for ‘The Strangers’ franchise. The original was much more, well, original. Did I say franchise? That’s right, there’s a reason I said that. Be forewarned, there will be spoilers ahead so don’t continue reading if you wish to remain surprised with the film.
While the original film focused on only one couple in a cabin, this film opens with a scene of the trio killing an old couple in a trailer park. As the film continues, it becomes apparent that they have in fact killed everyone in the trailer park in the middle of the night, apparently without alerting authorities in the process. This is vastly different than the tone set in the first movie, with the trio focusing on one lonely couple in the woods (which has a far more realistic feel to it, which lends to the fear that it manifests in the audience). Having the killers go on a silent rampage like this only makes their killings seem less unique. Scenes like the one in which the blonde killer cuts the officer’s throat didn’t really come off as scary – just boring. Killing off the parents was done way too quickly in the movie. Honestly, having the last half of the movie be about the kids surviving was the wrong move here. Unfortunately, I think that was done intentionally.
From the beginning of the movie, as soon as we see the 80’s retro-style lettering and bright colors, I became worried this was going to be just another flashy horror movie catered to younger audiences. Then we see the teenage daughter of the family of four, who is being sent off to boarding school because she’s a “bad girl” and nobody “gets” her. My fears finally came to fruition when the teenage kids are the last ones alive at the midway point in the movie. The parents are killed off almost without effort, while the two kids actually manage to kill the trio, because that’s what teenagers want to see. Honestly, the first movie came out 10 years ago. The people who enjoyed the original and have been waiting for a sequel are not the teenagers this movie panders to, but are most likely in their late 20’s to 30’s by now.
Did I say the kids killed the trio? Then why would I reference this as a franchise? Here’s the thing. While the two female killers are in fact killed on screen, the teenage girl manages to actually blow up the male killer in his truck. This doesn’t stop him from driving his flaming truck after the girl, before stepping out – covered in third degree burns – pulling a shard of glass from his stomach, and chasing her down the road with an ax. They went full on Jason Voorhees for the ending and it literally made me laugh. She manages to hitch a ride on a truck and hit him in the head, sending him flying to the pavement. This scene is followed up by the girl waking up in the hospital with her brother and hearing someone knock on the door, alluding to the male killer, now presumably incredibly disfigured, still being alive. This was done to keep the franchise alive for any future sequel. Although I can’t imagine what kind of movie that would be, because a disfigured killer running around the woods with an ax and a sack on his head surely wouldn’t be entertaining, would it?
Yeah. Full on Jason Voorhees.
This movie is packed with so many horror cliche’s that, had it come out years ago, I would have sworn every horror movie had been inspired by this one. I’m not upset they made a sequel; I’m disappointed it was aimed at the wrong generation. My advice: go back to your roots. Take note of what makes the first film a classic. Learn from the mistakes that makes this one forgettable.
This movie is…
I was excited to hear about a sequel. Now I’m just grateful for the original.
Cheers and goodnight.