More than perhaps any other genre in Hollywood, horror movies have a tendency to eat themselves. The genre is packed with the originality. It’s in that arena that we get The Strangers Prey at Night, which manages to be a sequel, a remake and a reboot of the 2008 original movie.
Original writer-director Bryan Bertino is back. Only on scripting duties alongside Ben Ketai, who made the surprisingly good claustrophobic horror Beneath a few years ago. The director is Johannes Roberts. The plot is as simple, focusing on a perfect nuclear family – husband, wife, son, daughter. Who are spending some time at a secluded trailer park for reasons that are justified.
The Simple Plot
They are soon confronted by the same three masked murderers as in the first movie – referred to as Dollface, Pin-up Girl and Man in the Mask. Who turn up with an array of blades and axes, thirsting for blood. Robert, spending plenty of time with parents Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson. He sketchs out their relationship with son Luke (Lewis Pullman) and troubled daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison). Unfortunately, the family dynamic isn’t all that interesting and it’s tough not to just be waiting for the violence to start.
When the violence comes, it’s sporadically entertaining and has the appeal of 1980s camp. Roberts has a good eye for a neon light and a troubling use of an iconic 80s power ballad. Often, the killers simply stand still until the camera pans to them.
The Strangers Prey At Night :Man in Mask
Prey at Night often gets a little bogged down in its own desire to nod to classic horror. The Man in the Mask is as unkillable as Halloween‘s Michael Myers and, with a sack on his head. He bears more than a passing resemblance to Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part II. Although a cine-literate reverence for the history of the genre is laudable, these homages are so overt as to distract from the tension and the scares.
The Strangers Prey At Night trusts its sense of light-hearted style to paper over the generic feel of its plot and execution. Filmmakers like James Wan and Adam Wingard are so well-versed in executing genre tropes that they can make something conventional feel fresh. As strong as Roberts’s work on 47 Metres Down was, The Strangers: Prey at Night makes it clear that he’s not quite on their level yet.