It seems like there’s never a perfect recipe for a decent sequel, but ask The Surgeons team and we can tell you that an essential ingredient is that it needs to create the look and feel of the original whilst expanding on the universe with enough of something new that doesn’t take too drastically away from its predecessor.
The Strangers entered the horror genre to mixed reactions. Some either loved it or were unmoved.
I for one fell into the former character and loved the protagonists played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as less than idealised version of a ‘perfect’ couple.
The isolation and intimacy helped add to the angst that these characters were faced with when 3 masked figures broke creating an anarchy through a ‘house invasion’ style horror simply because “You were home”.
10 years later, Director Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) would bring back Doll Face, Pin Up Girl, and the Man in the Mask to a whole new audience and hoping to find that magic recipe for this feature to stand head and shoulders alongside the first film.
Does he succeed?
Well let’s look at the offering.
The family unit has expanded from broken couple to broken family of 2.4 children. Christina Hendricks notably pulls off a fine performance as the matriarch with little effort needed on her part, such is the strength of her acting.
It is the kids though that blossom in this movie as they are forced to use their own wits and methods of survival in order to overcome the ordeal.
Exchange the isolated house setting from the first film with near-abandoned trailer park for the second, which allows our protagonists various methods of ‘safe haven’ only to produce more invasions from our antagonists to wreak havoc upon, including a car invasion at one stage.
Roberts certainly knows his stuff when it comes to horror with knowing nods to the slasher genre embedded throughout this film, most notably Halloween and Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
And there are elements one of his early films, F is also on display here too.
So you’d think that this would be a walk in the park for Roberts to rekindle the mayhem of The Strangers, but too often he falls foul of typical horror tropes and repeats said formula throughout the movie.
Pop music from the 80s is used to heighten the sense of nostalgia whilst juxtaposing the sweet, candy style rhythms against the harsh horrors on the screen, which is either hit (Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart during a swimming pool scene, which also hangs on the screen for a measure amount of time while one of the characters’ life also hangs in the balance)or miss (Kim Wilde’s Kids In America).
In addition, there are moments where he stretches the realms of believability a bit too far that it breaks the moment and thrusts you out of the picture.
And in doing so renders the antagonists as less of a threat, which is a shame.
It’s cheese on toast, with the the tones of the original dialled up.
Some might like the palate that is served up, happy to languish in a paint by numbers horror.
Others may grimace at how formulaic it becomes as you are forced through the ‘twee zone’ until the films conclusion.
It’s enjoyable enough, with strong performances from its cast but the impact is not as effective as its predecessor.
– Saul Muerte
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