The Strangers: Prey at Night
On their way to take their troublemaker daughter (Bailee Madison) to boarding school, a small family spends the night at a trailer park owned by relatives, only to be terrorised by three masked murderers. This is the premise of The Strangers: Prey at Night, a film that is, quite simply, a dull and uninspired homage to the slashers of the 1980s, one that fails to understand how to construct tension or to utilise the vibrant aesthetic of the decade that has become part of contemporary pop culture.
For a film that focuses on the importance of family, it’s incredible just how little chemistry the cast share with one another – a phenomenon caused by the combination of poor acting and a script akin to a checklist of derivative horror clichés. While none of the small ensemble could be described as giving engaging performances, by far the worst offenders are Madison and Martin Henderson – her on-screen brother – whose lifeless performances make up the majority of the movie’s runtime. In spite of the poor screenplay, however, Christina Hendricks (the mother) manages to make the most of her role; it’s a shame we don’t get to see her for long.
Equally as tedious as the writing is the filmmaking itself: shots are often full of empty space and offer nothing interesting to look at; all hope of tension is dissolved through predictable and unoriginal jump-scares in the form of obnoxiously loud noises (mostly knocking), and the soundtrack doesn’t seem to know how to use music effectively. By far the strangest artistic choice is the repeated use of zooming into close-ups that actually looks as if it was done in post-production – it feels unnatural and creates a constant distraction.
The 80s nostalgia that the feature draws so heavily on is completely redundant. The inclusion of some of the decade’s characteristic pop songs, a Carpenteresque synth score and a title card lifted straight from Stranger Things could easily be removed without affecting anything. It’s as if this choice was made purely to capitalise on a trope of other successful media.
Perhaps one day Prey at Night will find itself invited to join the ranks of beloved trash horror, but for now, this is another shameless sequel with nothing going for it other than its name – and even that isn’t much. Thankfully, at only 80 minutes, the horror doesn’t last long.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is released nationwide on 4th May 2018.
Watch the trailer for The Strangers: Prey at Night here: