Sunday, 6 May 2018


Starring: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Martin Henderson
Writers: Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai
Director: Johannes Roberts

Parents Cindy (Hendricks) and Mike (Henderson) take son Luke (Lewis Pullman, son of Bill) and troubled daughter Kinsey (Madison) to a secluded mobile home park in order to get a much-needed break. This turns out to be not such a great idea as the family is targetted by three masked psychopaths with a liking for a) bloody murder and b) 80s music...

Director Johannes Roberts was also behind last year's shark thriller 47 Metres Down and he was more than able to wring plenty of tension from that frankly ridiculous premise so I was confident he could deliver the goods in the more naturally frightening environment of the (mobile) home invasion genre.

And he does, giving us a pared-down suspenser which doesn't lark about with a surfeit of unnecessary character development, instead getting fairly swiftly into the business of running, hiding, stalking and slashing, set to a killer soundtrack which features not one but two Kim Wilde tracks (full disclosure: big fan of Kim Wilde - I'm sold) and many others from that era, including another jet-black comic outing for Total Eclipse Of The Heart.

It's also pleasingly light on jump scares too. Yes, there's one moment where one character leaps out of another just for a laugh early on but from there the film lets the situation do the talking in terms of palm-moistening fear. The Strangers don't lay in wait, they're front and centre. They taunt their victims and they want them to know they're out there.

Performance-wise, there's little room for the principal actors to show much before they're plunged into the rushing around/shouting/screaming phase of the flick but even so they're all more than sympathetic enough to care what happens to them, particularly Madison and Pullman who grow in likeability as the sister and brother as events become progressively more grim.

The three Strangers, on the other hand, are pretty much killers behind masks and that's your lot. They've no backstory to speak of other than they really like bumping people off. At one point, when one of them is asked why they're doing it, they respond with "Why not?". The lack of motive may be a convenient get out in terms of plot but sometimes there is no grand plan behind these acts. Some people are just evil.

Anyway, back to the action and Prey At Night's brisk run time of 85 minutes means you're unlikely to be drumming the arm of the char with your fingers waiting for the next bloody scrap. The set-pieces are very-well orchestrated and the violence is brutal, even more so for the fact that it isn't awash with gore. Arguably it never tips into OTT territory, making those stabs and slashes all the more painful.

The Strangers: Prey At Night isn't a game changer for the horror/thriller, nor does it set out to be. What it does do, however, it does very well and chances are you'll be gripped. It may not linger too long in the memory but you'll have a fine time while you're watching it. And it features a lovely tip of the hat to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre towards the end.