The Strangers: Prey at Night
|The Strangers: Prey at Night|
|Directed by||Johannes Roberts|
by Bryan Bertino
|Edited by||Martin Brinkler|
|Music by||Adrian Johnston|
|Distributed by||Aviron Pictures|
|Box office||$32.1 million|
The Strangers: Prey at Night (also known as The Strangers II: Prey at Night) is a 2018 American slasher-thriller film directed by Johannes Roberts and starring Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, and Damian Maffei. It was written by Bryan Bertino (who wrote and directed the first film) and Ben Ketai. A sequel to The Strangers (2008), the film follows a family vacationing to a secluded mobile home park, where they are attacked by three masked thugs.
The Strangers: Prey at Night was released in the United States on March 9, 2018, and grossed $32.1 million worldwide on a budget of $5 million. It received mixed reviews from critics, with some considering it to be more entertaining than its predecessor and appreciated its satire of horror films, while others noted it as inferior to the original and called it clichéd.
Ten years after the events of the first film, in a secluded trailer park in Kalida, Ohio, the three masked thugs arrive in their pickup truck at night to a couple's trailer. Doll face wakes a sleeping female occupant by knocking at the front door. When she investigates, she sees the intruder already in the house, who kills her offscreen and then lies down in bed next to the woman's sleeping husband.
Sometime later, Mike and his wife Cindy take a trip with their children, Luke and Kinsey, to their aunt and uncle's trailer park to spend time together before Kinsey leaves for boarding school. After arriving, the blonde woman knocks at their front door and asks for Tamara, but is turned away by Cindy. Kinsey leaves the trailer annoyed and Luke is asked to go after her.
Back at the family trailer, the blonde woman knocks a second time and is again turned away. Troubled by the encounter, Mike and Cindy decide to look for the kids. During their walk, Luke and Kinsey come upon a trailer with the door open. Inside, they find their aunt and uncle's dead bodies (the couple killed in the opening scene). Mike and Cindy find the kids, who are in hysterics. Mike follows Luke back to the trailer to find the bodies, while Cindy and Kinsey return to the trailer. They find their cell phones smashed to pieces before doll face appears and kills Cindy, who aids Kinsey’s escape through a skylight in the bathroom. Mike and Luke find the voicemail that Cindy left for their uncle in the trailer, realizing that the thugs were waiting for them to arrive. After fending off the masked man with a gun, they head back to the family trailer, where they find Cindy dead. Mike and Luke search for Kinsey in the family’s minivan, before the masked man throws a brick at the windshield, causing the van to crash. Kinsey is pursued by the three strangers, namely the pin-up girl and the masked man. Luke awakens and discovers Mike has been impaled by a board from the wreck and is unable to move. Mike gives Luke his gun and instructs him to find Kinsey and escape. After Luke leaves, Mike is killed by the masked man with an ice pick.
Kinsey enters a trailer, where she is stabbed by the blonde woman, but Luke arrives and holds her at gunpoint. The siblings flee and hide in a different trailer, where Luke tends Kinsey’s wound, before the strangers drive their truck through the front of the trailer. The two escape and Luke hides Kinsey under a porch, while he goes to the main office to call for help. He manages to call 911, but quickly finds outs he is not alone and is attacked by the brunette woman in the park’s pool area. He manages to wrestle her knife away from her and stabs her to death, before the masked man appears and attacks him with an axe. Luke and the masked man fall into the pool during their struggle and fight for the knife, leading to Luke being stabbed. Kinsey finds Luke and rescues him before setting off to find help.
A deputy finds a disheveled Kinsey, but before he can assist, he is killed by the doll face. Kinsey is able to use the deputy’s shotgun to overpower and kill doll face. The masked man arrives in the truck and totals the police SUV to prevent Kinsey from escaping. She uses her cigarette lighter to ignite a gasoline leak from both trucks, blowing them both up. The masked man survives the explosion and continues pursuing her in his truck engulfed in flames. He exits and falls to the ground. Kinsey flags down a passing truck for help, but they attempt to flee when they see the masked man appear, still alive, behind Kinsey. She climbs into the bed of the truck with the masked man following close behind her. Kinsey bashes him on the head with a baseball bat, knocking him out of the truck bed and seemingly killing him.
Some time later, Kinsey is at a hospital with Luke recovering from his injuries. As Kinsey awakens from a nightmare, she hears the jack-in-the-box toy noise she heard earlier when encountering the strangers, along with a knock at the door as the film ends.
- Bailee Madison as Kinsey Cortez
- Lewis Pullman as Luke Cortez
- Christina Hendricks as Cindy Cortez
- Martin Henderson as Mike Cortez
- Damian Maffei as Man in the Mask
- Emma Bellomy as Dollface
- Lea Enslin as Pin-Up Girl
- Mary Louise Casanta as Aunt Sheryl
- Ken Strunk as Uncle Marv
- Rachel Kuhn as Waitress
- Leah Roberts as Young Mother
- Gabriel A. Byrne as Young Son
- Preston Sadleir as Officer Brooks
Rogue Pictures' producers announced that a sequel to The Strangers was in development in August 2008, tentatively titled The Strangers: Part II. In a 2009 listing published by Bloody Disgusting, it was reported that the script would be written by Bryan Bertino and the film directed by Laurent Briet. In 2010, the horror website Shock Till You Drop reported that Relativity Media put The Strangers: Part II on hold because they decided the film might not be in their interest, despite the fact that Universal Pictures was willing to distribute it. However, Rogue Pictures confirmed in January 2011 that the sequel was again in production, and was then scheduled to begin filming as early as April 2011; in a press release, Rogue revealed the plot would concern "a family of four who have been evicted from their home due to the economy, and are paid a visit by the same three strangers from the first film."
According to Liv Tyler, star of the original film, Part II was slated for release in 2014, but that did not occur. In 2015, The Wrap reported that the sequel was in production, and that Relativity Media and GK Films had scheduled the film for a December 2, 2016, release date, though it was later removed from the schedule.
Roberts said that while he was in Los Angeles, the producers of 47 Meters Down met him for dinner and asked if he could read a script called Prey At Night. He liked the script and wondered if he wanted to get involved in a sequel despite having released the first film years before but finally accepted and decided to add his personal touch.
In February 2017, it was announced that Johannes Roberts would be the sequel's new director, and that filming would commence during the summer of the same year. In May 2017, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman were reported as the film's stars, and production began in Los Angeles on May 30. In June 2017, it was announced Martin Henderson had also joined, along with the other main cast members.
On October 12, 2017, Collider reported the film would be released on March 9, 2018, by Aviron Pictures. A teaser trailer for the film was released on November 16, 2017. The official trailer debuted on January 5, 2018.
In the United States and Canada, The Strangers: Prey at Night was released alongside The Hurricane Heist, Gringo and A Wrinkle in Time, and was projected to gross around $7 million from 2,464 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $4 million on its first day, including $610,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $10.4 million, finishing third at the box office behind Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time.
As of June 2021, the film holds a 40% approval rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 126 reviews with an average rating of 5/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "The Strangers: Prey at Night may appeal to fans of the original who've been jonesing for a sequel, but its thin story and ironic embrace of genre tropes add up to a bloody step back." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 48 out of 100, based on 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale, down from the "B–" given to the first film.
It received mostly positive reviews from fans of the genre. Bloody Disgusting gave the film a positive review, saying, "The Strangers: Prey At Night really takes The Strangers to the next level, and serves as a perfect introduction to The Strangers for new horror fans. You can go back and watch The Strangers and be just as happy for their previous relentless onslaughts”. IGN also praised the film, writing that "Skillfully made, spooky, stylish, and featuring some quite good character work, The Strangers: Prey at Night stands much taller than the 2008 original. The central killers are plenty scary, and some of the images on display would make John Carpenter proud." Writing for /Film, Candice Frederick also gave the film a positive review with a 7/10 rating, writing that "Though its characters may fumble and its winks to the first film may not be as slick as I’d like them to be, Prey at Night does maintain the original commitment of presenting horror to the most mundane. It doesn’t just disrupt an innocent setting of a quiet suburb...It is that relentless seclusion, heightened by a haunting soundtrack of otherwise harmless songs."
Brian Douglas from The Hollywood Reporter praised the tone of the film, writing, "While the original Strangers was devoid of any sense of the 80s, instead opting for a kind of timeless modern quality, Roberts’ sequel boasts its stylistic debts, with everything from camera shots, and music choices culled from the 80s, forming an impressionistic collage of a time period that feels made for the big-screen." Staci Wilson writing for Dread Central also praised the film, writing “Aside from the quick setup introducing the targets, The Strangers: Prey at Night really is a nonstop thrill ride. I know it’s a cliché, but sometimes you’ve just got to call it as you see it. I was breathless from start to finish. Kudos to Roberts on his best movie yet! He was wise to amp up the atmosphere with a kick-ass original score and flawless cinematography."
Glenn Kenny of The New York Times gave the film a mixed review and compared sequences of the film to Lucio Fulci's Zombi and the slasher film The Mutilator, adding: "If you recognize those films, you might find yourself mildly diverted by this tawdry, occasionally effective shock-delivery device. Watching it with a demonstrative crowd in a Times Square theater proved to this former grindhouse devotee that sometimes you can go home again, at least momentarily. That said, the movie’s ludicrously drawn-out finale sapped the good will out of some of my fellow audience members." Kimber Myers of the Los Angeles Times also gave the film a mixed review and wrote that “...although the film is as slim and poorly balanced as a cheap knife, The Strangers: Prey at Night is a stylish 1980s throwback that packs plenty of terror into its short running time. This isn't a horror movie that will take up residence in your nightmares for weeks, but the sequel to the solid 2008 original The Strangers is nonetheless just as effective in the short term as its well-made counterparts”. Owen Gleiberman, writing for Variety, described the film as "Friday the 13th with four victims and three Jasons... [it's] shameless in its bluntly misanthropic family-of-lambs-to-the-slaughter violence, its blithe depravity that’s more fetishized than felt. It doesn’t take much, though—as it didn’t in the '80s—to create a one-weekend horror hit."
The Guardian's Benjamin Lee gave the film more of a negative review, rating the film 2/5 stars despite praising Hendricks' performance, noting: "...it’s just difficult to really invest in what happens to any of them. Before long, characters are all making stock horror movie decisions, and there’s no amount of effective craftsmanship that can sell stupidity. Audience members will be too busy sighing at the screen to be scared."
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