The Strangers: Prey at Night ★★★

Johannes Roberts is trying new things! The iconic nihilism of the first is replicated here formally, with an aesthetic of helpless melancholy staccatoed by brief neon transgressions. It grounds itself with its narrative of familial tension and translates it well into general horror motifs; the family bonds feel sincerely strengthened by the threat of the strangers and moments of sacrifice are joyless rather than exciting. This is a beautifully shot movie, but it is less "photogenic" than most horror movies are, in which kills are cathartic and fun.

It's also refreshing to see a mainstream horror movie take trauma seriously! The ending notes are made more substantively terrifying because of the lingering damage to the psychology of the characters. Roberts is patient in evoking this descent into psychosis, allowing it to happen gradually, as the numbers dwindle. A moment where a character is unable to pull the trigger on Dollface asks the audience to project what their response would be onto the screen and suggests that it would not be as easy as horror generally makes it seem. In doing so, Roberts manages to avoid the mistake of condoning gun violence by allowing it to save the day (Death Wish is another good recent movie, maligned critically in spite of good optics!)

My interest is piqued by all of the religious marketing surrounding the film, but the overall lack thereof within the film?

Also this write-up is basically the conversation I had with Mitch (who just posted a REALLY good write up on Death Wish!)

Jason liked these reviews