Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome to Jack-o-Lantern June and my thoughts on The Strangers

As you may have recalled from one of my previous blogs, Afraid of April and Scary Spring, I was super pumped to see the movie The Strangers.
There were alot of selling points in it for me:

1. There's 3 creepy people wearing masks, and especially one guy wearing what looks like the torn off skin of a baseball/old white canvas bag mask.

2. It said it was based on real events.

3. Its tagline was "Lock the doors. Pretend you're safe", which really hits close to home for me, because regardless of whether it's 12:00 in the afternoon or 7:00 at night, I refuse to leave the door unlocked when I'm home alone because I am scared of what this movie entails.

4. Did I mention people in masks?

5. and most of all, it looked very, very SpoOooOoOky!

So I patiently waited until May 30th to go and see for myself.

Well, on Friday night (opening night of the movie, might I add), I experienced the SpoOoOoOkiness that is The Strangers, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint me.

I'm not going to give you all of the gory details, but I will anyway probably.

There were many things I liked about this movie.

I just want to warn you that there may be some major to minor spoilage in this, so if you don't want to know anything about this, stop reading here! Come back later and discuss it with me.

First of all, the masks are great. They pop out at the scariest possible moments and there are times when it's almost unbearably creepy (see picture above with Liv Tyler on the phone and creepy masked guy popping out behind her unnoticed by her, noticed by everyone in the audience, and welcomed with "oh my God" and "look behind you!" and "are you serious?"). There was also a scene in the end where (stop reading this because i'm spoiling it now) they remove the masks, but you don't see their faces...only the main characters do. we discussed this in depth after the movie and agreed that this was an excellent decision, because the audience can still imagine whatever they want to about the formerly-masked villains, because the unknown is ALWAYS more frightening.

Secondly, the movie doesn't really begin involving a sappy storyline as I had originally thought. In fact, it's just the opposite. Liv's character actually denies the engagement, and the characters are miserable. Instead of being sickened by their sappy happy engagement, you're feeling really bad for them because now they secretly resent each other. I actually liked the way this worked out better, because by the end I felt more of an attachment to the character's pain and plight as I probably would have had they been a perfect happy couple.

Third, I liked the small-ness (is that a word?) of the cast. There were only about 8 people total that you saw in the film. 3 of those people you weren't even really sure what they looked like because they were masked. It really revolved around Liv Tyler's and Scott Speedman's characters, so I really enjoyed the actual isolation of this film. There's a part where he says to her something along the lines of no dogs barking and no cars passing by and how they are truly alone there. That, to me, is terrifying. That feeling of helplessness and "there's nobody to save us", especially after one scene involving Speedman's friend "Mike" (which I saw and said "this movie just took a very bad turn for them") is what makes movies like this really great and work. You get that same feeling in Night of the Living Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that no matter how close the characters get to actually making it out alive, there's always a ringer and there's that feeling of sheer devastation.

Fourth, the motive. There was hardly a motive for this. When Liv Tyler's character asks one of the masked people why they're doing this...the reply was "Because you were home". Wrong place at the wrong time is horrifying, because it can truly happen to anyone.

Fifth, the ending is outrageously gory/uncomfortable/sad/upsetting/hard to watch. I won't say what happens, just trust me. It was definitely a cringeworthy moment.

Sixth, the "trueness" of the story. It says inspired by true events, but if you search "Hoyt Family", the date, the address, you find nothing. Is it a hoax to create hype for the movie? Is it loosely based on the Manson Family murders? Is it based on what happened to a New York Socialite? Is it based on the Keddie Cabin murders in 1981? Wikipedia has that it's based on the director's childhood. Everyone has differing ideas, making me unsure that anyone knows for sure what the movie is "based on", except the people that made this movie, and maybe a few internet sleuths. I almost like not really knowing. It makes it scarier.

and Seventh, this movie had all of the elements for a good slasher flick. Sure, it's not really that original. There's nothing really earth-shattering about the idea of it, but hey, on a Friday or Saturday night, it's a great film to go see and jump and be scared. It's scary. It has moments where things jump out or there are loud noises and you jump out of your seat. It's not like Hostel where you feel like you're going to barf at how grotesque it is. This stays more true to the classic horror movies.

So, if you're in the mood to see a good scary movie (pretty rare nowadays), Monster Bash blog says go for it!


Silla_Sophia_Sangria said...

i don't know of you've heard about this or not and may actually coincide with the "based on true events" when really it isn't.the movie Fargo by the Cohen brothers did that. The beginning of the film says "based on true events" when really they made that part up. In the featurette (sp?) they talk about how nobodies ever done a movie on fake 'real events' if that makes any sense. so i'm curious on whether or not they were true events or just made up for the show of things. something to consider! or just boggle the mind.

Monster Bash said...

you bring up a great point! I didn't even think of it...i forget that nowadays even the "True" stuff can be false...I remember how upset I was when I found out that Blair Witch wasn't real. where's the honesty in hollywood anyway!?