Ten years between films is too long for a horror sequel, which may be why THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT tanked at the box office when it was released in March.
By every metric, the original tops the sequel. THE STRANGERS more than doubled PREY AT NIGHT’s ticket sales ($52.5 million vs. $24.5 million); received more positive critical praise (45% vs. 38% on Rotten Tomatoes); and received more positive audience scores (47% vs. 36%).
But damn if I didn’t enjoy PREY AT NIGHT more than THE STRANGERS, the atmospheric original starring Liv Tyler released in 2008.
For horror fans like myself, PREY AT NIGHT had all the ingredients for a scary-good experience. Three masked psychopaths. Check. A deserted trailer park setting. Check. Parents fighting for their lives alongside their children. Check. An efficient runtime of 85 minutes. Check.
More intense and brutally violent than the original, PREY AT NIGHT slams its bloody foot on the pedal and never lets off the gas. The trio of killers — the Man in the Mask, Dollface, and Pinup — return from the first film, and they seem more recklessly eager to dispense their brand of random violence.
This time the victims are a family of four on a vacation to an aunt and uncle’s secluded mobile home park. Adding a couple of teen kids to the mix amps up the tension and the stakes as the parents have more to worry about than their own necks.
The cast is excellent with Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson as the parents, and Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman as the teen siblings. Director Johannes Roberts, who helmed the shark-horror film 47 METERS DOWN, keeps the action and violence moving at a brisk pace.
According to the critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, the knocks on PREY AT NIGHT were “its thin story and ironic embrace of genre tropes.”
Really? That sounds like almost every slasher movie ever made. PREY AT NIGHT is not trying to reinvent the genre. It’s just a film about what happens when a family of four encounters a trio of psychos on a mission to kill. It’s wrong place, wrong time. No need for much backstory.
What do I want from a slasher? Just give me a few chills and thrills over an hour and a half, and I’m a happy horror camper.
PREY AT NIGHT delivers the chills and thrills, and it’s my pick for the most underrated horror film of 2018.
Check out the trailer on Youtube here.
RATING: ♥ ♥ ♥ (out of 4)
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