Kristen : Why are you doing this to us?
Dollface : Because you were home.
The Strangers (2008) falls under the very unfortunately elusive category of tragic-horror. You are scared aplenty, but more than that you are terribly sad. The premise of the movie makes you sad, the way the middle bit is dispensed makes you sad, the climax especially makes you sad. The trope of home-invasion was never as tragic as what Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler’s characters go through in this movie. Of course the whole bit of it being modeled after a true story doesn’t quite help our nerves. The plot revolves around partners James and Kristen, who are attending a wedding out of town, where the former proposes to the latter and that ensues in difficult questions they face about their relationship. However, if only the subliminal heartache was their biggest problem of the night.
Soon the couple is terrorized by a trio under the alias of Doll Face, Man in the Mask, and Pin-Up Girl. After repeated knocks on doors, entering the home unbeknownst to both Kristen and James, violently and brutally tormenting them simply because they were at home shocks the audience with jump-scares galore. However, it is only the very precipice of doom. The real doom lies in the twisted moment the couple is sharing as opposed to what they could have shared. From a celebratory wedding, to a proposal, to a romantic night in a secluded cabin – the complete upside down version of their so-called perfect and ideal night is heartbreaking to watch. From figuring out the next step together as a couple, both James and Kristen are left wondering if they will have another living moment as one.
The movie uses building soundtrack, masks, some rural boys, some deafening silences, some hushed up words to generate a kind of uneasiness in the viewer that mirrors the protagonists. It is no longer about being violent, or a slasher movie, the movie plays with the inevitability of despair. As a viewer you are forced to understand how for-granted you can take opportunities, how an ideal scenario can disrupt any moment. The Strangers is a devastating reality check that leaves you scared, but not of being sliced up but of being separated by your loved one and not having that one last moment of something you had previously thought was insignificant. That devastating reality check that are you truly even safe in your own home?