The Strangers: Prey at Night

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)

Directed by: Johannes Roberts
Starring: Christina HendricksBailee MadisonMartin Henderson 

IMDB Synopsis

A family of four staying at a secluded mobile home park for the night are stalked and then hunted by three masked psychopaths.

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Sunday 6th May
Who with: Alone
Snacks: Leftover strawberry laces

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

I really didn’t gel with The Strangers (2008), although the actual cinematic experience was one of my favourite ever. Meghan and I went one afternoon and had a blast ripping it to shreds (there were about five people in theater and we all joined forces in the piss-taking).

Looking back, I can’t even recall what it was that bothered me so much – I *think* it was Liv Tyler asking her husband over and over if he was okay, when he very clearly was not okay. But regardless of that, I did think it was a simple yet terrifying premise: a group of strangers wreak bloody havoc on a family one night, just because. Argh.

Prey at Night centers around Kinsey (Madison) and her family, who are travelling to a new town where Kinsey will be attending a new boarding school. The whole family is reluctantly packing up their home for this new start but nobody is more fucked off about it than Kinsey herself.

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The petulant teen feels as though she’s being shipped off without ceremony, which is kind of the case – she’s done something naughty at school and been booted out (unspecified). Kinsey’s mother Cindy (the mighty Hendricks) is determined her daughter won’t make the same mistakes she made when she was a teenager, so there’s lots of mother-daughter friction. Dad and big brother Luke (Lewis Pullman) are a bit more chill but emotions are running high all round. 

On route and late into the night, the family stop at an uncle’s caravan park to sleep. As it’s off peak season, the park is abandoned with no other soul around. I know right, red flags for dayssssss.

Well, I don’t think you need me to tell you the rest. Three strangers rock up and things go quickly downhill. Maybe Kinsey won’t have to worry about boarding school after all…

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PAN was a surprising one for me. While it doesn’t offer anything that groundbreaking, it does have a respect for the genre that I really enjoyed. The soundtrack is peppered with 80’s bangers that recall a classic time for horror and give it a vintage vibe, even though it’s set in modern day.

There are a couple of scenes that are so aesthetically pleasing – there’s a whole sequence set at a neon swimming pool that honestly I can’t stop thinking about. I also enjoy the anonymity of the antagonists, which is the point I guess. They’re nameless, faceless and motiveless – and that’s terrifying. When Kinsey finally unmasks one of the women and asked her “Why?” – she responds with “Why not?”. The fact this psychotic trio enjoy what they do is almost impressive.

Other than that, it is kind of murder by numbers. There are a couple of nice surprises and some creativeness that lift it though. Honestly, I had a blast! And there’s a great Texas Chainsaw homage that made me squeal with happiness.

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While Christina definitely wasn’t used to her full potential and the dad could have been played by any conventionally attractive dude, I think the siblings were pretty great. I flipped a lot on Bailee Madison’s Kinsey – she could be very irritating but actually pulled it off in the end. She’s got gumption and her relationship with her brother, who she feels is favoured by her parents, feels real.

Given that I went in expecting this to be shit and came out smiling, I would say this is worth a shot. While it won’t make you pee your pants in fear (maybe it will, but not me) – it’s genuinely creepy and as I mentioned above, I’ve thought of it fondly ever since.

My Rating

3.5/5.

I Feel Pretty

I Feel Pretty (2018)

Directed by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Starring: Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams, Emily Ratajkowski

IMDB Synopsis

A woman struggling with insecurity wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed?

Where: Odeon Brighton
When: Sunday 6th May
Who with: Darren
Snacks: Strawberry laces, cloudy apple juice

*Minor spoilers*

My Review

Yes it is stupid that Amy Schumer’s Renee is treated like the ultimate dog when she’s pretty much everything the beauty ideal celebrates: white, thin, able-bodied, feminine, cis gender. Think about it like this: if Renee is made to feel this way for being just a teensy bit untoned and not as beautiful as an actual supermodel, how the fuck must the rest of us feel?

It is problematic, make no mistake. That said I still wanted to see it for myself and see what I would take from it. I didn’t hate my experience and although I’m not defending the main points – she’s not fucking fat or ugly – I did have a bit of fun.

Renee works in IT for a glossy beauty brand and has low self-esteem (not helped by being locked away in a stinky office in China Town, as far away from Fifth Avenue as possible). Like most women, so far so relateable (the first bit). She unfavorably compares herself to all other women (check) and carries herself like she should be ashamed of taking up any space at all (check again). After she hits her head during a Soulcycle spin class, she gains consciousness and believes she’s been magically transformed into a true beauty. Finally. (There’s a quite brilliant Big homage a few scenes before that I loved).

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This leads Renee on a journey to her dream job and her dream relationship because she’s suddenly gained all the confidence and currency you’d imagine conventional stunning beauty would bring.

Yes, there are some fun bits as Renee enjoys her newfound looks. Her over-confidence is amusing, her best friends’ (Aidy Bryant and Busy Philipps) bemusement and then annoyance at her conceitedness are both funny and sad. Her new romance with Ethan (Rory Scovel) is cute – and the scenes with baby-voiced Avery (Williams) were among some of the best. Also, is one of Naomi Campbell‘s parents a cat? She’s looks like an actual sphinx.

The film is really trying to make a strong and valid comment but it falls flat when you consider the above points – and the rhetoric gets a little confused at times. Had Renee been played by an actual fat actress, she never would have been afforded the same opportunities as Amy Schumer would. I want to see that film, please – I want to overcome, or at least challenge, all the bullshit of the beauty myth with someone who falls far short of it.

I don’t think I’ve expressed myself in the best way – there are many fat positive bloggers that have done a better and more eloquent job that I – but I do think it’s important not to just gloss over the issues at play.

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So, if you take this as a fun piece of fluff, then yes, it’s alright. Schumer didn’t make me want to gouge out my own eyes and yes, I sympathised with her feelings of inadequacy. I hear them – but the makers could have taken this premise and gone all the way. I’d be here for that.

My Rating

3/5.