Director: Bryan Bertino
Stars: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward
By Brian M. Sammons
Confession time: when The Strangers first came out in 2008, I didn’t like it. I didn’t hate it, either, I just didn’t get why so many horror fans seemed to love this movie. So with the long-awaited sequel coming out soon, Scream Factory has given us a new Blu-ray release of the first film, and that’s great since I have been wanting to watch this film again, to give the movie another chance to wow me. Had I missed something in the first viewing (that sometimes happens)? Were my first impressions of it right on the money (that happens, too…a lot)? Well, grab your favorite baby doll mask, don’t answer the door if someone comes a-knocking, and let’s find out.
Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman are two young lovers in a bit of a crisis. After returning home very late at night they start getting tormented by three strangers in masks. The uninvited guests start knocking on the door, looking in through windows, cutting the phone line, smashing the hell out of cars, and eventually trying to stab the crap out of anyone in sight. You know, little pranks like that. So it’s a basic Home Invasion story, and while when this came out 10 years ago there were a few other home invasion movies, this was one of the first and it’s still one of the go-to titles everyone thinks of when they think of the subgenre at all.
Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of the subgenre and this movie did little to change that. I did end up enjoying it more this time around, but only just a bit. For me it boils down to too many stupid mistakes by the protagonists in service of the plot. The same could be said about your standard slasher, of which home invasion is a kissing cousin, but for me your basic stalk and slash just has more simple charm to carry it. Also with such a stripped down everything (location, cast, plot), the tension has to be sky-high to obfuscate the slow, boring bits. Sadly, The Strangers does not do that for me, but I know for many it does. So while I can’t jump for joy over the film itself, how is the new packaging of this movie for fans of the home invasion subgenre?
Let’s get to those extras on this new two disc set from Scream Factory. Yes, I said two discs, both are Blu-ray, and that’s because you get both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. That’s cool. Now starting with the theatrical cut, there is “Elements of Terror,” a bunch of interviews with the cast and crew while they were shooting the film and that goes on for just nine minutes. “Strangers at the Door” is another nine-minute featurette from 2008 that focuses on the three titular home invaders. There is a collection of deleted scenes, TV spots, and a theatrical trailer. Moving on to the unrated version, there is an interview with writer/director Bryan Bertino that is almost 30 minutes long. There is an interview with actor Kip Weeks, the male stranger, and that lasts 11 and a half minutes. There is an interview with actress Laura Margolis, who played the “pin up girl” stranger and that one is nearly 14 minutes long. The last interview is with Kevin Greuert, the editor of the film, and that one is 20 minutes long. Finally, there is a still gallery. So not a bad collection of extras, but not having a director’s or actor’s or any commentary is a missed opportunity here.
So I did end up liking my second viewing of The Strangers more than I thought I would, which always makes me happy, but I still have some holdover gripes about it too. Hey, baby steps, I guess. However, if you love this movie like so many do, this new Blu-ray from Scream Factory is easily the best edition of the film out yet. So consider this a solid get for all you The Strangers fans out there.