The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)
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
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.
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…
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.
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.