"Rather Derivative, Violent Horror but Sometimes Suspenseful and Heroic"
What You Need To Know:
Reminiscent of 1980s horror movies, especially the original HALLOWEEN, THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT looks like it’s going to be another depressing, ultraviolent, annoying mad slasher movie. However, when the family stops acting stupid and starts fighting back in the second half, the movie becomes more captivating and suspenseful. Also, the story is basically about how the rebellious daughter learns not to take family for granted. That said, PREY AT NIGHT has extreme, bloody, personal violence that some susceptible people may copy and an excessive amount of foul language. Extreme caution is advised.
THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT is a rather derivative horror movie about an estranged family trying to spend a short vacation together before the two teenagers go off to boarding school and college, who are menaced by two young women and a man in masks. Mimicking past slasher movies like the original HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13TH, PREY AT NIGHT is a suspenseful, but extremely violent horror movie, with lots of foul language, so extreme caution is advised.
The movie opens with two of the three masked killers invading the home of an older married couple who are sleeping. After apparently grabbing the wife, who heard a strange noise, one of the killers slips into the bed next to the sleeping husband.
Cut to the next day. A white suburban family is finishing packing so they can go to the small lake resort run by an aunt and uncle. It soon becomes clear that the teenage daughter, Kinsey, has been in trouble of some kind lately. She’s rather rebellious and sullen to everyone, including her parents, Mike and Cindy, and her brother, Luke, who’s about to go off to college. The parents have decided to send Kinsey to a new boarding school, and Kinsey is definitely not happy. She constantly argues with everyone, including when they arrive late at night at the cabin prepared by the aunt and uncle, who left a note saying they’ll see them in the morning.
Mike tries to tell Kinsey he wants the family to have a nice weekend before she and Luke go away to school, but Kinsey will have none of it. She goes outside to “get a breath of fresh air.” Mike and Cindy order Luke to go after her and try to calm her down and bring her back. However, as Luke and Kinsey wander around the grounds talking, they see a cabin door open, where they find the bodies of the aunt and uncle, who have been cut to pieces.
One by one, three masked stalkers appear and try to chase down and murder the family. The masked man rides around in an old truck and wields an ax. The two masked women use knives. Will anyone survive?
Most modern horror movies today are badly made. Most of them are depressing because the heroes often fail to defeat or banish the evil antagonist in the story, whether it’s a demonic force, a malevolent ghost or a psychotic human being. Or, the evil antagonist or villain actually wins the battle by the end of the movie. Once in a while, a tragic ending can be stimulating, but usually only if it serves a higher purpose, like presenting a clear warning to the viewer(s). Otherwise, it’s just depressing and annoying, if not boring.
The first half of THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT looks like it’s going to be one of those depressing, annoying and boring horror movies. During that time, the family members seem more like stupid sitting ducks ready for the slaughter than heroes. However, in the movie’s second half, they start being less stupid and begin having some success at fighting back. So, the movie’s second half ends up being more interesting, more exciting and more suspenseful.
That said, PREY AT NIGHT still has lots of extreme, bloody, personal violence that will encourage some children, teenagers and adults to copy the violence in the real world. In fact, when the victims in the movie finally are able to dish out some deadly retribution of their own, they clearly enjoy it. Also, as one of the female murderers says when the daughter asks her why they are trying to kill people, the girl says, “Why not?”
PREY AT NIGHT is a bit derivative of “classic” 1980s horror movies like FRIDAY THE 13TH and especially HALLOWEEN. Even the music sounds like John Carpenter’s acclaimed score for HALLOWEEN, which is perhaps one of the most influential movies of its generation.
Sadly, PREY AT NIGHT also has lots of foul language, including abut 14 or more “f” words (see the CONTENT section below). The emotionally troubled teenage daughter smokes a couple times and is rebellious and annoying. Basically, however, the story is about how her battle against the evil killers stalking her family helps her learn not to take the love of her family for granted.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE STRANGERS: PREY AT NIGHT.