Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
10

Movies Review

The Strangers

By
The Strangers
Released on Wednesday, Aug 27 2008

Director: Bryan Bertino
Screenwriters: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman
Running Time: 85 mins
Certificate: 15

The Strangers is a refreshing antidote to the raft of gore-filled, formulaic attempts at horror that have deluged cinemas in recent times. The simple 'cat and mouse' premise is given a low-key approach in Bryan Bertino's film, but this minimalist method is both the greatest strength and weakness of the project.

Effectively substituting an isolated holiday home for the tent of The Blair Witch Project, The Strangers revolves around a young couple being terrorised by three unknown mask-wearing assailants. Kristen (Tyler) and James (Speedman) are soon separated and their hopes of survival begin to fade as the evil draws closer and the knives are sharpened. A date movie this is not.

A distinct lack of dialogue allows director Bertino to creature visceral, primal fear without bowing down to genre conventions. Indeed, the first glimpse of one of the masked 'strangers' in the house is masterfully orchestrated, as he discreetly glides, out of focus, into the edge of shot in the background while our eyes are trained on Kristen. Once we discover the presence for ourselves, rather than being force-fed our reactions, there's a guaranteed shudder.

As Kristen, Liv Tyler is given very little to say or do, but still manages to turn in an outstandingly believable performance that somehow manages to avoid both the conventional 'damsel in distress' and horror heroine labels. It's acting in its purest form, as the signs of pure fear are etched on her face once she suspects a presence lurking in her house. It's an indication of Tyler's talent that she can generate great pathos for the character despite the audience knowing very little about her other than her present predicament.

Ultimately though, the lack of substance and incident during the movie prevents it from being anything more than an above average exercise in generating and sustaining suspense. The absence of any hints about the Strangers' motives becomes an annoyance, despite being initially refreshing through its dismissal of 'cause and effect' cinema, but later becomes more of an annoyance. Ambiguity is a wonderful thing at times, but we're not given enough to go on. Furthermore, the denouement lacks a killer punch that could well have elevated the film's status.

There's no doubt that Bryan Bertino has a very impressive understanding of the genre's visual needs and his camerawork is often reminiscent of John Carpenter's classic films. Let's just hope there's some more meat on the bones of his next script.

> What do you think about the movie? Share your views

You May Like

Comments

Loading...