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The Strangers: Prey at Night gets the adrenaline pumping

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Vicky Sparks

In the original film The Strangers, audiences watched entranced as Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, a young couple in love attempted to survive a seemingly random attack at the home by crazed killers.

It was the kind of horror movie that could haunt for a lifetime – when the killers were finally asked why they picked this particular house they replied, “Because you were home.” Ten years later, people are still double-checking the locks on their doors.

This time around, The Strangers sequel is entitled Prey at Night. No longer satisfied with terrorizing a couple, they’ve upgraded to a whole family.

Cool mom and dad (played by Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson), jock brother (Lewis Pullman) and angry punk sister (Bailee Madison) are on a road trip to deposit sullen teen sister at boarding school.

We never learn what she did to cause such a reaction but can tell she’s trouble because she (like every angry, teenage girl before her) wears a ripped Ramones T-shirt and too much black eyeliner while fake chain smoking.

In the midst of this fun family road trip they stop to spend the night at a trailer park managed by mom’s uncle (it’s the off season). They find their trailer and set in for a night of tense family dynamics only to be disturbed by a knock at the door.

They discover a teenage girl looking for her friend Angela – they tell her she’s got the wrong trailer and she leaves. This seems normal enough until she returns with the same question 10 minutes later.

Obviously, something is wrong with the girl but the family leans more toward stupidity than crazed psycho-killer. That’s a mistake.

Jock brother and surly sister decide to go for a walk through the abandoned trailer park to blow off steam – what could possibly go wrong? Well, they could discover their uncle’s trailer with the door open and his dead body inside.

The film continues exactly as you might imagine it would with mask-wearing killers on the loose. The family does as good a job as any could hope to do when confronted by a team of sadistic sociopaths.

This is a standard horror film. It’s not reinventing the genre like Get Out recently did, and it’s not quite as good as the original. It borrows heavily from classics like Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre with little original perspective.

But the idea of unstoppable killers murdering people indiscriminately is always going to be scary. This time around, when the killers are asked why they’re trying to kill everyone the terrifying answer is, “Why not?” So prepare to be terrified by that for the rest of your life.

Full disclosure: I am a huge wimp who dislikes scary movies. I know for many people they’re fun, but I suffer through them with eyes covered, trying not to scream.

That said, I suspect most people would find this movie truly terrifying. Adding to the horror of humans being hunted down like deer is a score filled with ‘80s pop hits, highlighting how casually these murderers can kill, which makes them seem even more frightening.

If you enjoy being terrified in a theatre with adrenaline pumping through your veins, The Strangers: Prey at Night won’t disappoint.

I’m waiting for my hands to stop shaking.

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia.

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