10 years ago, a group of masked murders invaded a quiet vacation home in writer-director Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers. The film was a hit and a modern horror classic, and it was just recently reissued on a new special edition Blu-ray from the dedicated masters of horror at Scream Factory. After a decade of waiting, the sequel to The Strangers unleashes a new chapter of terror in The Strangers: Prey at Night, which sees a trio of masked murderers terrorizing a family in a secluded trailer park. Prey at Night is a solid horror sequel, taking the premise established from the first film and running with the concept as the bodies pile up and the blood flows.
In director Johannes Roberts’ sequel, a family of four makes a journey to a quaint mobile home park where they plan to stay with family. Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) travel with their baseball player son Luke (Lewis Pullman) and their angsty and rebellious daughter Kinsey (Bailee Madison). When they arrive, their family members are nowhere to be found. As expected in a film in this genre, something horrible has happened but nobody has figured it out yet.
But this fractured family unit is given a hint that something is amiss when a mysterious stranger starts knocking on their door. It’s not long after this ominous event that a trio of masked killers start terrorizing this family. Horrors are unleashed by The Man in the Mask (Damien Maffei), Dollface (Emma Bellomy), and Pinup (Lea Enslin), with this trio of masked murderers utilizing an array of violence with their sharpened tools designed to kill.
What works well about The Strangers: Prey at Night is the fact that the movie has a no nonsense approach to its concept. There’s a family of victims and a family of masked murderers. The screenplay by Bertino and Ben Ketai has no pretensions about what kind of movie Prey at Night is and director Johannes Roberts deftly amplifies the horrific situations with sturdy direction. You sit down to watch The Strangers: Prey at Night with the promise of horrific violence and the film delivers.
One way The Strangers: Prey at Night amplifies its terrifying situations is how Johannes Roberts employs the film’s music. The opening scene of the film is haunting with the trio of Strangers ready to kill and Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America” blasts from their beat up pickup truck. A later sequence, which is a brutal battle to the death, takes place in a neon-infused pool area of the trailer park. Blows are exchanged as “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Taylor gives the grotesque display of violence an ironic twist. The original score for the film has an obvious influence from the film scores of John Carpenter, something that Johannes Roberts talks about on one of the Blu-ray’s special features.
Special features on The Stranger: Prey at Night Blu-ray include the aforementioned featurette on the film’s music and the influence of John Carpenter. That’s accompanied by a music video “Prep for Night” directed by Mickey Keating. Also on the disc are a couple of other featurettes, one about the making of the film and the other about the family tasked with taking on the violent strangers knocking on their trailer door. Finally, there’s an alternate ending to the film, which, of course, I won’t discuss for obvious reasons – i.e. spoilers.
The Strangers: Prey at Night isn’t a groundbreaking work of horror. It doesn’t redefine the genre. It knows exactly what it is and delivers with a brutal efficiency. If you love horror and want the thrills and chills of a ghastly home invasion story, you could do a lot worse than The Strangers: Prey at Night. With its modest ambitions, Prey at Night hits the veins that it aims for. It’s hard to ask much more out of a slasher flick than that.