The Strangers: Prey At Night

“Inspired by true events” …the tagline that always tends to draw people into horror movies. It evokes the stories that your Uncle Larry told you, the ones that he had heard from his neighbor’s friend about this one time where this very thing happened. The idea is to play on the fears of the audience, if this seemingly improbable event actual happened to someone, then it could happen to anyone.

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to Kinsey (Bailee Madison), a troubled teen whose parents are at their wit’s end on how to prevent her destructive behavior. As their final resort, they decide to enroll Kinsey in a boarding school, in hopes that the school will be able to change her attitude. They are driving Kinsey to her boarding school and plan to stop along the way at a small mobile home park, managed by their aunt and uncle. Arriving late and with the mobile home park completely deserted, the weary family gathers the key to their mobile home (which was left out for them with a note from the uncle) and decides to turn in for the night. After settling in, there is a knock on the door and a strange woman asks if Tamara is home. This begins the nightmare which has the family fighting for their lives.
The Strangers: Prey At Night, written by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai is the sequel to the 2008 film The Strangers. Much like the original movie, it revolves around a trio of psychopaths, with a penchant for 80’s power ballads, who stalk their prey at night. While the movie follows a very similar pace as the original, it replaces the large house for a group of much smaller mobile homes spread across a mobile home park. Unlike the larger house, where there are plenty of places to hide, the mobile homes present a far more cramped location, limiting not only places for the killers to hide but also places for the family members to escape. The film relies on the cramped quarters of the mobile homes to act as a trap and the sprawling mobile home park as a means to split up the family.

The movie starts at a fairly slow pace, but once the action starts it doesn’t stop until the end credits. There are plenty of jump scares and the dimly lit mobile home park offers plenty of tension for the viewers. Prey At Night doesn’t do anything particularly original and you would even be forgiven if you feel as though you’ve seen this exact movie before as the formula varies little from its predecessors. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have a few fresh ideas, such as the mobile home park setting, it’s just that other movies have done more to breathe new life into this genre.

The acting is on par with similar movies in the horror movie genre. Bailee Madison does an excellent job portraying a rebellious teen with plenty of angst to go around. Her brother (Lewis Pullman) seems believable as the older, more well-behaved sibling. Finally, Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson) both do a good job as the well-meaning but fed up parents, hoping that the boarding school will turn their daughter around.

The Strangers: Prey At Night is a competent horror film but falls short of the original. While it has you on the edge of your seat during much of the action, it doesn’t do anything to distinguish itself from other similar films. It’s not a bad film, it will just leave you with a sense of déjà vu and your thoughts will not linger on much after the last credit rolls.

3 out of 5 stars