Reel Shorts | The Strangers: Prey At Night

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

Ever heard of a throwback horror movie? Check out this one!

Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) are at the end of their rope. Their daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison) is a rebel and has been a terror in her school. They feel that they have no choice but to enroll her in a boarding school that can deal with her appropriately. Unfortunately, the school is quite a road trip away so they plan to stay at their uncle’s trailer park for the night. Even more unfortunate are the things that await them in that trailer park.

The Strangers: Prey At Night is the long-awaited sequel to the entertaining original from 2008 that starred Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler. The sequel was written by Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) and Ben Ketai (The Forest). Like the first movie, this movie claims to be based on a true story which means that since it is a sequel, it has the same base as the original. The story itself is simple and straightforward. A family gets lost in an abandoned area and gets attacked.

The focus of the movie although is the vision of director Johannes Roberts. From the opening credits, the movie has a very retro feel. Prey at Night is a clear throwback to the old slasher movies like Halloween. In fact, Roberts cites John Carpenter as one of his influences. Roberts keeps the film simple and straightforward as it flies quickly through its opening act and right into the slashing. The movie also has a couple of scenes that harken back to Christine.

The only problem with the movie is that if you haven’t seen the original there will be some things that you miss. The film is good as a standalone because of its simplicity but if you are in a theater with people who have seen the original, there will be some reactions that will make you feel like you missed something important (“Is Tamara home?”).

The draws for the movie are probably Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, Hap, and Leonard, Good Girls) or Martin Henderson (Grey’s Anatomy) but the real star is Bailee Madison (Once Upon a Time). Madison’s Kinsey is brooding and petulant at the beginning. She is embroiled in a war with her mother (Hendricks) and portrays the rebel well. But much like seen in Lady Bird, when things get serious, she is smart and caring and strong. Madison’s performance is very strong and she holds herself well even in the company of her more mature cohorts.

Overall though, The Strangers: Prey At Night, (rated R for horror, violence, and terror throughout and for language) is an average ride. For those who have seen the original, this movie may seem slightly boring and predictable but for those new to the game, it’s good scary fun that revisits old slasher movie clichés and gives some of them a little twist.

Grade C

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