A very glossy, high quality, but generic addition to the pretty limited 'home intrusion' sub genre of horror. 'The Strangers', which is very reminiscent of the Spanish movie entitled 'Them', is all thrills and no spills as a young couple are terrorised by three masked assailants, who seem to want nothing more than to frighten the shit out of them.
The plot of the movie is limited to say the least, in fact, without any sort of twist most of these home invasion movies, save that of the amazingly brutal 'Inside', are all pretty much alike, and provide very little in terms of story for your 90 minutes.
After a marriage proposal goes wrong the young couple reluctantly retire to their country home to try to work shit out. After a fairly uncomfortable settling in period their make-up-sex is interrupted by a knock on the door. A young girl stands on the step, lost and looking for someone. After being sent away she returns, with her less than sociable, mates and begin to taunt, threaten and bait the young couple. Basically put we have about 15 minutes or so of story, then about an hour of hiding in cupboards and stuff, whilst the intruders creep around the house, moving things and turning electrical appliances on and off.
Naturally though its a horror movie and so a limited plot is nothing out of the ordinary so long as the film works the other angles effectively it could be forgiven.
What 'The Strangers' does manage to do is create a thick tense atmosphere which works well to begin with but, as with the film 'Them', peters out after around half an hour. To begin with the intimidation tactics do get under your skin, particularly the voyeuristic style of some of the scenes where the characters stand in the shadows just watching the helpless couple cower, but after a while the movie gets a little repetitive leaving you feeling impatient as the pace begins to slow; if you are going to kill them, then just do it, and if you are the people being terrorised then make your mind up, are you going to hold up in the house defensibly or are you going to make a run for it, either or, don't keep making failed attempts at either. Perhaps this sort of plot premise would suit a short movie or an hours long 'Masters of Horror-esque' episode.
Credit is due, before the atmosphere turns to tedium the movie does pack some effective scares and some parts are pretty chilling. The lighting is good and the 'natural' sound effects are used effectively to draw you into the plight.
Sadly though, despite all the gloss, this movie just doesn't do it for me, although I can imagine for some it would. The whole 'intrusion' style of movie relies on people thinking 'shit this could happen', indeed the script before the movie describing dates and statistics would lead you to believe that it did, and so would play on people insecurities in their home. For me though, the fact that the antagonists are only human makes them seem equally vulnerable, and I got to be honest to watch it rather than to experience it doesn't really chill me. Naturally, if this did happen it would not be pleasant, but then neither would any of the other horror plots – except zombies! - how cool would that be?! In all honesty, after about 15 minutes of 'terrorisation', if some guy wearing a bag was to keep knocking on my door and be stupid enough to shove his face in my peep-hole I would swing the door open and stab the cunt.
Ok, I digress. All in all this movie is all foreplay and no sex. If ghosts and the supernatural don't scare you because its unrealistic, then maybe this movie will do it for you but for me, well, it was watchable.