Movie Review: 'Strangers Prey at Night'

10 Years Later Sequel to 'Strangers' Fails

Kinsey (Bailee Madison) is being sent to boarding school because she’s grown out of control. Her parents, Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson), are at their wit's end with their rebellious offspring, and as we join their story, they, along with their son, Luke (Lewis Pullman) are driving Kinsey to her new school. Tensions are high among the family and reach a boiling point when they pull off for the night.

The family is pulling off for the night at a trailer park owned by an uncle we only meet as he and his wife are brutally murdered by masked killers. These brutal masked fiends overhear that the family is coming to stay at the park and they decide to lie in wait for their new victims. With the family unaware of the brutality awaiting them and with the family already in chaos, things do not look good for our heroes.

My apologies for the passive sarcasm in my description of this plot, but it’s hard for me to take any of this seriously. The Strangers Prey at Night is a poorly crafted follow-up to the 2009 cult horror hit with Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. The sequel is so clumsy and so underwritten that we have no genuine idea whether these are the same killers from the first movie or if these are copycats.

When does this movie take place? Is it around the time of the original? Is it ten years later? For part of the movie, I thought that perhaps the film was set in the 1980s considering the soundtrack and the bland costumes, plus the corded phone used by the film’s first victim. Then, after the opening deaths, we go into the credits and, this is rather pedantic on my part, but the font used for the title indicates the 1970s.

I spoke earlier in this review of this clumsiness and it’s not just in the set-up. In the original The Strangers movie, the villains were dangerous and scary but still human. In The Strangers Prey at Night however, the killers are now as prescient as psychics are as they are able to be everywhere the victims are, regardless of the believability of their appearance. One of the killers is also basically Jason Voorhees as he survives being blown up at one point and passes his unkillable quality to his truck, which can drive while on fire after blowing up.

Strangers Prey at Night is also a derivative mishmash of failed homage to better horror movies, including the original film in this series. I just mentioned the Jason Voorhees bit and there’s also a little bit of Last House on the Left, plenty of lifts from the first film in this budding franchise, and a scene at the end that is a complete ripoff of the ending of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There is an unspoken rule in movie-dom: Don’t mention better movies in your crappy movie. The Strangers Prey at Night breaks that rule far too much.

The Strangers Prey at Night is yet another ugly exercise in hapless brutality. Derivative, clumsy nonsense, this ten years later sequel could not be any more pointless. The bloody violence of The Strangers Prey at Night isn’t that bad, to be honest. Unfortunately, everything else about this sequel is a complete failure. This includes the casting, which wastes the talents of Christina Hendricks in a thankless mom role, arguably the biggest sin of this whole waste of a movie.

The Strangers Prey at Night was directed by Johannes Roberts who directed the pretty good shark movie, 47 Metres Down just last year. Then again, he also directed the completely awful demon-possession horror movie, The Other Side of the Door. The Strangers Prey at Night hues far closer in quality to the latter film and could have learned a little something from the shark flick as to how to sustain suspense and how to use a scary killer. 

Sean Patrick
Sean Patrick

I have been a film critic for more than 17 years and worked professionally, as a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association for the past 6 years. My favorite movie of all time is The Big Lebowski because it always feels new. 

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