One of my favorite Tumblrs is Horror Movie Confessions. It’s very much what you would expect. People confess things about their favorite (or not-so-favorite) horror films and the person who owns the Tumblr puts the quote on a scene from the movie. For someone who has watched as many horror movies as I have, it’s a damn lot of fun. It also helps me find horror movies that I haven’t seen but might be interested in. It was via Horror Movie Confessions that I discovered Megan Is Missing – some things you just can’t unsee – as well as The Strangers. The confessions about The Strangers seemed to me to be split right down the middle opinion-wise, so I really had to try this one on for myself.
The set-up is pretty straight forward. A couple (Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman) is spending the night at an isolated home and the house is invaded by people wearing masks that cut off all their communication from the outside world and remove all means of escape. It’s a story that we’ve seen before in various permutations so it’s nothing really new. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem with The Strangers.
I felt like there were about 15-20 scary minutes in the entire movie and even “scary” is a bit of a stretch. This movie was more “creepy” than out and out scary. It did a pretty good job of building the suspense and tension, but it rarely delivered on the actual scares. One review I read right after I watched it mentioned that it was a 90 minute trailer, and I really do agree with that assessment. The movie also suffered from what I call “Cloverfield syndrome” in that I really didn’t give a shit about the beautiful people that were threatened by the big bad. The movie tried hard to humanize them, but ultimately, it didn’t succeed. I found myself infinitely more intrigued by the motivation of the masked strangers, something that is never fully clarified.
As horror movies go, I’ve seen a lot better, but I’ve also had much worse 90 minutes in my life. The one absolute positive that came out of this movie was I was compelled to stop the movie about a half hour in to go buy the Merle Haggard song “Mama Tried” which is used to great effect in the film. It was also another example of the crazy modern world we live in – I heard the song, wondered what it was, Shazamed in on my phone and then went to my computer and downloaded it. It doesn’t get much better than that folks. So even though I was never really scared, at least I discovered new music.