When you watch a horror movie, what scares you? Is it the adrenaline rush? Maybe the jump scenes? Maybe there’s something liberating watching a serial killer slash his/her way through victims? What about realism? What if it could really happen?
Recently, I rewatched one of a few horror movies that scares me. I mean really scares me. It terrifies me to the point where I check doors multiple times, have trouble sleeping, and every noise perks my ears.
The Strangers (2008) – starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman – ranks as one of those movies you don’t expect to get a scare from. It’s just another slasher movie, right? The Strangers only cost $9 million to make and doesn’t star big names – in or outside of the horror genre – so it should suck. We should be able to laugh and make fun of it. But it’s hard to laugh, trust me.
Reviewers do not love this movie, and people claimed it wasn’t scary, but it constantly makes the “scariest movies lists” on a number of sites and shows. The people who were not scared either didn’t pay attention, or it made them so uncomfortable they wouldn’t admit it. Instead of appreciating its simplicity, these people wanted tons of gore, monsters, or found footage, like so many of today’s popular horror movies. The Strangers is pretty clean gore-wise, and the monsters are real people – which should be scarier – and claims to be based/inspired by on true events.
Here are the top 5 scariest things about this movie:
1. Randomness. This exchange sends chills down my spine. There’s no reason, no logic, and it could happen to anyone.
Tyler: (crying) Why are you doing this to us?
Blonde girl: Because you were home.
2. Mind games. I admit, I feel most people would behave smarter than this couple, but you can’t fault them for everything. The killers mentally torture this couple and rip them phyiscally and emotionally apart. The killers play games with the couple hours before killing them, and you’re not sure if it’s intentional or not. The plot takes place in roughly two hours, but it feels like 20.
3. Realism. Whether we want to admit it or not, home invasions happen. They happen every day. In fact, according to FBI data, there were 2.1 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2012, and residential burglaries accounted for 74.5 percent of all burglary offenses. It’s something we refuse to talk about, but we still lock our doors and check our surroundings. The idea of a home invasion scares anyone who cares about their family, personal space, stuff, and their privacy.
4. Camera work. The production crew shot this movie well. The audience feels like they’re trapped with the couple without the camera bouncing all over the place. You see both perspectives, too. You see the couple from the killers’ eyes and vise versa. You the audience view, so you have three different point of views throughout the movie.
5. Sequel factor. It’s not the possibility that they may make another movie, it’s the idea that the killers will do it again. Spoiler alert: The killers get away, and one of the last lines is, “next time it’ll be easier.”
If you want a good scare, check it out. It’s not in your face, and fair warning, you may find yourself checking closets before bedtime…