There is nothing more terrifying than people breaking into your home. Especially if its a group of psychos coming in while you are home. Home invasion movies go back as far as 1909, and there have plenty of them throughout the decades. I think one of the most popular is When A Stranger Calls, “The calls are coming from inside the house!”. It’s funny to have a horror movie that will make you think twice about things, like Jaws makes you think about going into the ocean, Psycho makes you keep your shower curtain open, The Strangers makes you think twice about going home. Especially if you live out in the country.
The story is simple yet terrifying. Kristen(Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are coming home from a friend’s wedding reception. James had this whole romantic weekend planned out and had planned on proposing to Kristen. Well something happened at the reception, because we see this utter look of sorrow when they are driving back to James’ family summer home out in the country.
The two of them sit at the table eating ice cream talking about their relationship, when all of the sudden there is a knock at the door. It’s like 3 or 4 in the morning. At the door is a girl, asking in a very creepy tone “Is Tamara home?”. Of course, they have no idea who Tamara is and send her on her way. Or so they think… James leaves to go get Kristen some more cigarettes, and the girl comes back again asking the same question. Being home alone at that hour, with some girl knocking twice now, Kristen begins to freak out a little bit. The fire alarm starts blaring, the phone cuts out, and she tries to use her phone to call James, but it’s dead. She puts it on the charger, and little while later it’s gone. They are inside the house. I have to make this reference, “The calls are coming from inside the house!”. From here on the terror heightens.
James comes home and tries to calm down Kristen saying “everything is going to be okay”. He’s completely unaware of the situation that is arising. I guess every horror movie needs someone to keep kind of a level head. The strangers consist of two girls, one being the creepy girl from earlier, and one guy. The three of them wear these masks and the creepiest one is the guy who wears this white sack with a smile on it.
Throughout the rest of the movie, they mostly just fuck with Kristen and James. The couple obviously tries escaping, but the car is trashed. Calling for help isn’t an option because their cell phones have been taken, the landline has been cut, even an old CB radio has been destroyed. They feel all hope diminishing as the time slowly passes. Until finally they are captured. Kristen has watch as they murder the man she still loves. Talk about your emotional torment. She pleads to them to stop and asks why they are doing this, their answer is the famous line of the trailer “because you were home.” That right there is what gets you. After everything there was no rhyme or reason to their madness. Simply “Because you were home”. I love that it really gets into your psyche. Kristen and James were not bad people they were just and everyday couple that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Strangers is not like every horror movie out there. It has this element of terror that really seeps into your subconscious. The director Bryan Bertino even calls it a “Terror” film. In the fact that this shit has actually happened in our history. There is horror, and then there is terror. Horror is a genre that kind of gives you the creeeps and you can easily brush off because it is pure fiction such as vampires, zombies etc. Terror is something that really fucks with your actual reality because it could happen. Look at all the movies that have been inspired by Ed Gein-Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Silence of the Lambs Etc. Even American Horror Story Hotel was inspired by H.H. Holmes one of America’s notorious serial killers. The Strangers, I feel, was inspired highly by two cases in history. The Charles Manson Family murders, and a case in the 1980’s where these people came into a small cabin and killed a mother and her children. An absolute atrocious act. But because of these events and others like, filmmakers have the inspiration to make a movie that will scare the shit out of you.
What I enjoy about The Strangers is the story. There is not a lot of dialogue, so the actors really had to keep you captivated with their performances. The exterior shots were actually filmed at this farm home and everything was spaced properly. They built the inside of the house in this nearby warehouse and because of that got some of the greatest sounds that I have ever heard. And I have seen a lot of horror movies. It gave this hardcore loud sound that really makes you jump at every pop, crash, and scream. And Liv Tyler has a set of lungs on her that I never knew. It only makes sense being the daughter of the famous Stephen Tyler. It was great to see her in role that she has never done before. I think because of this one movie, she could easily work her way up to Scream Queen status. Scott Speedman does a good job as well. He tries so hard to stay cool and collected. But in the end it doesn’t bode well for the couple. My only advice if you haven’t seen this, don’t watch it by yourself at night.