Guys. Guuyyyyyyyysssss. Look at that poster.
Damn. That is scary.
So, I have half a day off on Wednesdays, and I get out at noon. I usually run errands or go home and sleep (ha). Yesterday (a Wednesday), however, I decided I wanted to go to the movies. My husband likes horror movies that are more of the possession/paranormal kind, whereas I love them all (mostly). The original The Strangers movie had really terrified me because home invasion movies are the one type of horror movie genre that truly scares me. I think it's because it's something that actually can happen, has happened, and will happen to people. But I digress.
(Beware, spoilers - read after you watch)
There wasn't much of a backstory with this one, and to be honest, we don't need one. The whole point of this movie is that it doesn't matter who the people are, both victims and perpetrators. All that matters is that...well, it doesn't matter. So, we meet this family who is on their way to taking their teen daughter to what seems to be a boarding school because she's gotten into a lot of trouble. Mom and Dad (Christina Hendricks and Martin Hendersen, respectively) are in the front seats, and in the back we have older, more responsible son, Luke (Lewis Pullman), and next to him, the "bad kid", Kinsey (Bailee Madison). They stop for the night at Martin's uncle's trailer park which happens to be empty due to it not being tourist season in that area. And that's just when stuff starts happening. The family is terrorized by 3 strangers, two have Dollface masks, and the other just a burlap sack over "his" head. They are persistent, and remorseless. The parents don't make it very far in the movie, leaving Luke and Kinsey to try and outsmart and outrun the three strangers.
The mix of quiet, Kinsey's panicked breathing, and a warped playlist really did a number on me in the theater. The music, music that I LOVE, came to really creep me out. To give an example - the movie begins with The Muffs's Kids in America, the same song that the Clueless movie plays in the beginning. That - really freaked me out. The position of certain songs played extremely well with what was happening in the movie. Light-hearted pop hits all of a sudden turn ominous.
This movie truly pays homage to the Final Girl trope. Though we see both Luke and Kinsey being strong, it is truly Kinsey who is left to deal with the strangers. The part that made me catch my breath was when Kinsey gets a hold of a gun and actually shoots one of the strangers. She doesn't kill Dollface at first, and chooses to remove the mask. What Kinsey reveals is a plain-but-crazed-looking blond girl. Kinsey asks her why they've done this to her family, and the girl responds with a "Why not?". And that's the part I truly find terrifying. There is no motive. There is nothing here against Kinsey and her family - except their existence. Except that they were convenient. There is no answer to all your questions.
The Strangers also gives us a throwback to classic horror movies, most notably The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In the last scene, we see Kinsey having escaped to the main highway, and is actually able to flag down a woman driving a pick up truck with her bored looking son on the passenger side. The woman stops her truck and gets down to ask Kinsey if she's okay, only to back away quickly and back into the cab - because the Ax Guy is standing right behind Kinsey, wielding his weapon of choice. In a blindingly quick thinking move, Kinsey hops onto the bed of the truck, yelling at the woman to gun it. Ax Guy has managed to hold on and keeps trying to take out Kinsey, but, oh, what does Kinsey find in the bed of the truck? That's right, a baseball bat. Thwack - goodbye Ax Guy.
We later see Kinsey wake up in a hospital chair next to Luke who is laying in bed and connected to tubes. Kinsey stands up to grab a cup of water, only to drop it after hearing a loud knocking at the door. And that's where the movie ends. This ending appears ambiguous - has a member of the family survived? Are we going to see them murder Kinsey? Is it just a nurse knocking before entering? Who really knows. My opinion? We're shown Kinsey's reaction to the knocking in order to show how far deep her trauma is. A knock will never again just be a knock to Kinsey or her brother.
I recommend this movie to all horror fans, especially those extra-terrified of home invasion. This movie moved away from the home invasion aspect of the first movie, but it is fast paced and still an invasion. I truly enjoyed the movie, and thought it was filmed in a spectacular way.