horrifying events that took place in the Hoyt family's vacation
home at 1801 Clark Road on February 11, 2005, are still not
Rose petals. Candlelight. It was supposed to be a night of
celebration for Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott
Speedman). But after leaving a friend's wedding reception
and returning to the house, everything had collapsed for the
came a 4 a.m. knock on the door and a haunting voice.
Recently there are a couple of horror / terror movies
appearing on our local screens that are based on actual events.
If you are a horror movie bluff, you would recall the Thai
horrors such as The House and The Screen which had the “based
on actual events” tag appearing right in their movies.
The problem that binds all these three reality based horror
movies (including this one) is the simple lack of a good horror
plot that make sense and satisfy.
ironic twist as since it’s supposedly based on what
an event that actually happened before, it should be quite
scary as the horrifying events that transpired on screen actually
happened to someone in real life before. The problem that
lies here is either that the filmmakers didn’t personally
go through and experience those actual scary moments in someone’s
life and / or probably relied on their imagination after reading
headlines of such horror stories from newspaper. While some
filmmakers are apt at creating a solid horror flick, some
aren’t that skillful even with a reality based horror
In Bryan Bertino’s direction, The Strangers felt pointlessly
empty in the plot development aspects and overly long for
a film that 76 odd mins long (san credits which run up to
85mins long). Basically the whole point of this movie was
to have a couple who is having some troubles of their own,
encountering a bunch of people with violent tendencies and
being confined to a location while suffering to the Strangers
mental and physical tortures (much like Vacancy except it’s
darker and more serious here).
movie relies a lot on atmospheric tension to drum up the fear
factors in this movie. While there are a couple truly scary
“scare a second” moments that horror film makers’
wannabe should learn from, this film took a long period to
build up these atmospheric horror moments. Those long moments
are usually spent with the two main leads wandering around
aimlessly in fears, pondering over their own troubles and
while the audience are about to fall asleep, the film creep
up with a sudden knock or two. Although it’s is effective
in it’s own ways, it still feel like an awful time waster.
unpleasantness of this film was extended in the classic silly
manner that the two protagonists dealt with the Strangers
infliction of terror on them. Besides making the classic horror
mistake of splitting up in face of unknown terror, there were
a couple silly classic mistakes that the couple makes during
their attempt to escape that made it hard to sympathize with
the outcome that these couple gotten in the end.
there was one scene that stood out and it happened when one
of the couple’s friend came over to help out with the
couple’s problem. He walked into a house that clearly
been invaded by some unknown perpetrators and wasn’t
sure if those perpetrators were still around. It created an
intriguing notion that whether one should call out the names
of his friends or quietly investigate the scene. It was played
out in one of the most wicked and gruesome scene in this movie
and was the only moment that shines for this otherwise aimless
and draggy movie.
if you do a search for the Hoyt Family murder at 1801 Clark
Road, there are internet sites that states the reports of
the murders had been wiped clean by family members. No matter
how advance technology gets nowadays, it just felt rather
unbelievable that such feat could be achieved and the reality
that The Strangers is based on seems to be an outright phony
SPECIAL FEATURES :
are two deleted scenes (“James reflects at the Bar”
and “Bathroom Discussion”) provided in this segment.
While both seemly removed for pacing purposes, “James
reflects at the Bar” looked liked it’s almost
a finished piece while the “Bathroom Discussion”
seems more raw and far from the finished product.
Elements of Terrors
not listed on the Dvd’s back cover, the Special Features
(or Extras as we called it) comes with an additional making
off segment, titled as The Elements of Terrors. This 9 mins
odd feature include an explanation on rationale of the horror
that the filmmakers are trying to inflict on the audience.
In the short 9 mins runtime, it also tried to include a wide
range of the works that done behind the scenes such as the
special make up, the set and sound effects.
As a movie that used a lot of atmospheric tension as it main
driving force, it relies a lot on the usage of audio and video
to scares the viewers. The mixing of the audio was well enough
to emphasize on the sudden terrorizing knockings on the door.
by Richard Lim Jr