Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Strangers: Prey at Night Unrated Blu-Ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the sequel to 2008 cult classic The Strangers.  The Strangers: Prey at Night is an 80s Inspired Slasher flick from the director of 47 Meters Down.  Based on true events, this is the story of an unfortunate family struggling to survive a random and relentless attack from a trio of masked strangers.  The Blu-ray release includes exclusive bonus content with an alternate ending and an unrated version of the film.

Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Kinsey (Bailee Madison) has not had a good summer. It appears she has gotten into some serious trouble and is being sent to a boarding school. Her brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) is not making things easy for her as he points out that their parents are going broke to send her to the new school, having cut their cable subscription. Everyone is tense but Mom (Christina Hendricks) and Dad Martin Henderson are hoping for a nice family road trip before they take Kinsey to school. 

Their first stop is a mobile home park near a lake, run by some relatives. Having gotten a late start, the family arrives after dark. They called ahead and asked their uncle to leave a key for them. They find their trailer without issue but there is still food in the fridge that seems fresh. Then there is a knock at the door and a young woman appears asking for a friend.

Just as it happened in The Strangers, that young woman and her two friends will eventually strap on masks and terrorize whoever is home, simply because they were there. The trio of masked villains will slice and dice their victims while inflicting maximum psychological trauma on their victims.  There is not only an awesome 80s soundtrack to accompany the murders, but the serial killing trio have adopted the unexplained immortality you’d expect from your favorite campy horror flicks.  What should be lethal injuries may or may not stop the murderers when the victims fight back. You have to be ready for that, and ready to accept that some people could have lived if they were smart.  But smart people don’t walk into or out of horror movies but that’s okay.

The Strangers: Prey at Night is a fun slasher film. For those of you not into the horror genre, you’re probably very disturbed when someone calls a movie like this fun. What I mean by fun is that it’s not as serious as The Strangers, not as heavy of a story. Again, that’s very hard to explain when basically everyone dies in all the films (and no that’s not a spoiler). The film has re-watchability. Just because you know the ending(s) doesn’t mean its less enjoyable. The very small cast performs extremely well in their roles. Bailee Madison plays both cranky teenager and capable heroin well.  As brother and sister, her and Lewis Pullman are the teenagers we all know that hate each other until someone else bothers them and then they are bonded. With only the family and the villains, the cast could have made the film fall flat but they carried it well.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Much of The Strangers: Prey at Night takes place at night in dimly lit trailers or similar low light situations. Even inside a pipe lit by vehicle headlights you’ll never strain to see the action. If you can’t see what’s going on (like a girl’s face at the door) it’s because she untwisted the light bulb to the people in the film couldn’t see either. One of the killers wears a burlap sack that reveals a great amount of texture and detail. The masks show colors and intended irregularities. Neon lights provide brief glow, but overall the palette is muted and the film has a dated feel to go with the 80s vibe. The atmospheric film is well received on Blu-ray.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack performs well and supports the 80s music throughout.  The songs can be intentionally loud and then go dead silent which adds to the eerie stalker feel.  Beyond music the effects from pounding on doors, gunfire and engine noises are present as well as the gory knife plunges associated death sounds. Dialogue is intelligible and even throughout the film.  At most you’ll find yourself thinking that Kinsey needs to be quiet when she runs or she’ll attract the killer’s attention (and that’s a survival issue, not a sound issue).
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
The following supplemental features are found on the Blu-ray disc:
  • Version – Theatrical or Unrated (not available with Descriptive Video Service)
  • Alternate Ending (1:52) – An equally scary, something bad is happening but you aren’t sure what ending.
  • “Prep for Night” Music Video Director’s Cut (2:29) – The killers get ready to terrorize in a music video directed by Mickey Keating.
  • A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey at Night (1:50) – Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson and director Johannes Roberts briefly discuss the plot and characters.
  • Family Fights Back (2:02) – Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman and Johannes Roberts go into more detail about the family’s fight to survive.
  • The Music of The Strangers: Prey at Night (2:47) – Director Johannes Roberts explains music as a character and his love the 80s music.
Summary (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
As he used 80s music, the director explains he mixed beautiful songs with horrible torment. I thought that was a great way to describe this film.  It’s a campy horror flick, based on a true story. It would be interesting to know how loosely based and exactly what they mean by that. It may just mean that its true that people die sometimes and that’s okay too. I don’t really care. I enjoyed the film a lot and really like to watch this poor family have a very bad end to their already bad summer. The Blu-ray is light on bonus features (with some of the shortest making of featurettes I’ve ever seen) but it is technically sound. Recommended.

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