The Strangers was probably a little bit more effective for me than it will be for most viewers seeing as though I just had an odd experience a couple weeks ago where a belligerent man came ringing on my doorbell in the middle of the night and wouldn’t go away. Although I was perfectly safe because I called the cops on him PDQ and 5-0 was there in no time flat, it was still quite an unnerving experience. Scott (Underworld) Speedman and Liv (Lord of the Rings) Tyler aren’t so lucky in this flick.
Basically they play an unhappy couple (the long and the short of it: he proposed and she said no) whose home gets invaded by a trio of psychos in shoddy Halloween masks who fuck with their minds for 75 minutes before tying them up and mistaking their abdomens for Ginsu cutting boards.
I liked how first time director Bryan Bertino slowly built up the suspense during the first half of the movie. He efficiently used eerie sound effects (banging doors, scurrying footsteps, etc.) to ratchet up the tension and delivered at least one quality scare when the sicko with a gunnysack over his head made his first appearance.
After a strong start though, the movie kinda fizzled out towards the end. Bertino ran out of tricks at the homestretch and eventually he had to resort to cheap shock tactics and ho-hum scenes of torture. While the three masked killers conveyed an adequate sense of menace and had a high creepy factor to them, their Jason Vorhees ability to magically disappear and reappear without a trace whenever they needed to got a bit much as the film wore on. The gore was sparse, but at least there was a top drawer shotgun blast to the face scene about midway through.
The Strangers is definitely not Top Ten material, but it’s got enough jolts for a ** ½ rating.