The Strangers: Prey at Night ★★★½

Gleefully lifting from Carpenter & Hooper alike, The Strangers: Prey at Night may not have any sort of particularly interesting "hook", but some excellent direction and some gnarly gore makes this a damn good time at the movies. The inexplicable synthesizer addicted maniacs (maybe there's some Strangers franchise lore I missed out on by skipping the first one) don't have a ton of character (definitely an intentional choice- their lack of motivation is explicitly addressed), but with the terrific visuals and lighting doing the heavy lifting, it ain't much of a problem- their usage in the frame is gloriously spooky. Granted, it's not all great- as someone who's been the center of a troubled-youth narrative, I can't tell if the paper-thin characterization of rebellious teen girl as smoking cigarettes and wearing a Ramones shirt with - *gasp!* - an exposed shoulder and (SPOILER ALERT) learning through directly being responsible for her family's slaughter to wear conservative clothing (END SPOILER ALERT) is offensive or just beyond broad-strokes. On top of that, not all of the kills are great, and while the best slow zooms in this movie are some of the most effective I've ever seen, a lot of them feel unnecessary (or at least, doesn't add anything).

All that said, the Total Eclipse of the Heart scene is absolutely fantastic and probably my favorite scene of the year. That scene is everything I've always wanted Adam Wingard to be.

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