The Strangers (Bertino, 2008)

The Strangers doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a creepy, restrained horror flick that will stay with you for some time.  The setup is quite straightforward – three masked intruders stalk a squabbling couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) in a remote summer house. But the simple scenario provides a look at silent killers with ambiguous motives, making the material all the more terrifying. Director Bryan Betrino often lets the handheld camera linger on his two heroes, silently waiting for the standard horror thrill to pop from the shadows. Instead, the human monsters slowly creep into the light from behind, unbeknownst to the victims, creating a pressure-packed vacuum of tension. Several moments like these make The Strangers truly frightening and the traumatic ending only solidifies a feeling of regret and loss first exhibited in the opening sequences, where the couple shares some fleeting moments of reconciliation before the assault commences.

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