Directed by Johannes Roberts [Other horror films: Sanitarium (2001), Hellbreeder (2004), Darkhunters (2004), Forest of the Damned (2005), When Evil Calls (2006), F (2010), Roadkill (2011), Storage 24 (2012), The Other Side of the Door (2016), 47 Meters Down (2017), 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (2019), Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2021)]
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this one. The first movie was the very definition of blah, and though I heard some positive things about this (along with quite a bit of negatives, to be sure), I didn’t think it’d be something that worked for me. Boy, was I wrong.
The movie has a strong retro feeling, and you can tell by the title screen, the score (both song-wise and movie-wise), and the general vibe. It worked well with the cinematography to create an enjoyable and suspenseful movie. Just check out the pool sequence – absolutely loved what they did with the color scheme and sound.
As far as how the movie’s better than the first, aesthetics aside, there are two important factors. For one, the setting is a lot more open (instead of just a house and the immediate vicinity, here we have a whole campgrounds), which really upped the game of cat and mouse. Instead of running room to room, there are tons of places both inside and out that can be the stage of a battleground or a makeshift hiding place.
Secondly, and I can’t imagine this point would get much contention (though that shows I may not have met the internet), the characters are much more sympathetic. This is true, by-and-large, because they’re a family. A dysfunctional, messed-up family, but a family all the same. The chemistry between the brother and sister felt pretty real to me, and generally, I cared far more about the fate of those involved here than I did from the first movie eight years ago.
I don’t know any of these actors or actresses, but it was mostly solid performances throughout. Perhaps the weakest was Christina Hendricks (the mother), but at the same time, her character was going through a difficult time, so the lack of feeling she portrayed makes some sense. Martin Henderson was moderately generic, but tolerable enough. While at first Lewis Pullman wasn’t working for me as the brother, he did start to grow on me, and ended up a good character.
Lastly is Bailee Madison – I really loved her character. Reminiscence of Anya-Taylor Joy’s character in Split and Kiara Glasco’s from The Devil’s Candy, I thought that Madison had a lot of spunk here. She had the tough-girl look, but you know that she was just reacting to the struggles of being a teen. Her character was by far the best, and I’m glad the movie shines a light on her.
The gore here is pretty top-notch. It’s not really the focus of the film (that’d instead be suspense), but it didn’t shy away from some pretty gruesome sequences. Perhaps the bathroom death was the most shocking, but the pool scene, not to mention the finale, were both solid also.
I can’t think of any major complaints about this flick, to be honest, which is odd, as it’s a sequel to a very subpar film. I am a bit annoyed that they threw in the “this is based on a true story” tripe at the beginning, but otherwise, you have an atmospheric flick with a delightfully retro soundtrack (Kim Wilde, Bonnie Tyler, and Air Supply) and great aesthetics.
While it’s a surprise to say, this film really took me for a ride, and though I was hesitant of watching it, it won me over.
3 thoughts on “The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)”