It sure took The Strangers long enough to get the sequel materialised. Now, ten years after Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler headlined the 2008 surprise hit of that home invasion thriller, the long-gestating sequel has finally seen the light of day. Original director Bryan Bertino takes a backseat this time and replaced by Johannes Roberts, the English director best known for last year’s surprise hit in 47 Metres Down.
This time, the sequel involves a family of four (Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman) facing the worst night of their life when three masked killers (Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy and Lea Enslin) begin to hunt them down in a desolate mobile-home park.
Like the first movie, The Strangers: Prey at Night retains the same, albeit a mild improvement over the minimalist setting and its relentless thrills. Except, the difference here exception of its location (trailer park instead of a house) while the numbers of victims are now increased from a couple (Speedman and Tyler in the 2008 original) to a family of four.
The sequel even saw Roberts paying excellent homage to some of John Carpenter’s horror classics such as The Fog and Christine, right down to an obvious nod to 1974’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre seen during the climactic finale. Even Adrian Johnston’s evocative score reminds me of an 80s-like classic horror soundtrack with a hint of John Carpenter-ish musical ambience.
Screenwriters Bertino (who also penned the 2008 original) and franchise newcomer Ben Ketai (The Forest) successfully established the family of four (Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman) in an efficient way possible, even though the movie runs only a scant 85 minutes long.
Speaking of the compact length, The Strangers: Prey at Night isn’t as taut as it intended to be. There are times where the movie tends to lag behind. But Roberts still manages to pull off in most scenes. This is especially true when the tension escalates to a breaking point. One of the effective scenes worth mentioning here is the elaborate pool set-piece, complete with stabbing moments and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” played in the background. It gets better from there, as the sequel climaxes with a mix of Christine and Steven Spielberg’s Duel-like finale.
Overall, The Strangers: Prey at Night works surprisingly well as a better-than-expected sequel. Sure, you can argue it delivers more of the same as the original where three masked killers stalk and murder innocent victims senselessly. But at least this is the kind of horror movie almost devoid of pretentious moments and if you are a fan of the 2008 original, you are likely to enjoy this one as well.