The Strangers Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover has, at first glance, an element of creepiness. After I look at it a little bit longer it loses it’s umph. The guy in the sack mask dragging someone by their feet, yes, it’s got goosebump potential, but then they put the words “UNBELIEVABLY SCARY!” slapped on the bottom and that sucks the life right out of it for me.

The menu has some sound bites and video from the movie, but without revealing anything important. I like the simplicity and since the sounds include some screaming and unsettling dialogue, it did draw me into wanting to see the movie. That’s quite an acomplishment.

Features: 5/10

  • Unrated & Rated Versions Of The Movie – I’m not sure why anyone would want to watch a theatrical version of a scary movie instead of the unrated version, but hey, it’s here if you want it. I’m not impressed when they put both versions on a disc, it’s not a value added feature for me since I’m only watching one.
  • The Elements Of Terror Featurette (HD) – The director and cast talk about how the movie was made and we get to see some behind the scenes trickery they used for effects and stunts. This isn’t anything special as far as extras go, but it does explain a lot about why the movie looks the way it does and what kind of story they are trying to tell.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD) – These scenes are not needed in the final cut, so it’s a good thing they cut them out:) We get a tad more about the relationship of our leading couple, and that’s about it. It’s not even enough about them to make them more compelling.
  • BD Live – There is no extra content for this movie. It just links you to the BD shop.

The Movie: 6/10
I do like what they were trying to do with The Strangers, it might not work completely, but it’s an effort to do something a little different with a familiar genre, and that’s always a good thing. It’s not 100% typical of the kind of scary/horror movies someone who has seen thousands of movies might expect and yet the story isn’t uniquely intriguing. What exactly am I talking about???

A young couple, struggling through some tension, go to a rural house and are terrorized by some strangers. See what I mean? It’s not original, and then again, it’s not same old same old.  The style, the tone, the small things that gave me some chills, this is where The strangers perks its head above the crowd every so slightly.

The cast is a good element, for sure. I like almost everyone. The strangers themselves are the least interesting and do not rattle my bones once they become a part of the story. Other than that the performances rank pretty high. For what they have to do, lots of heavy breathing, crawling, looking around scared, hiding, crying, they do a great job. This is a very small cast, only about six people there is no room for a clunker in the bunch.

The one thing that really made this movie entertaining for me is the first thirty minutes in which I got the full effect of being stranded along in a house with someone outside messing with your mind by scraping, pounding, creeping around. I have lived in the country, alone, and been intimidated by the solitude every so slightly. The idea that you are cut off from the world and at the mercy of an unseen boogyman in the dark…ewe..creepy.

Some of the neutral factors would be that it’s not gory or excessively violent. It’s set in a good place, a believable house with believable characters (even if they are a bit too sappy for me), and it doesn’t always go the way I expected it to go. These are neutral qualities that didn’t do enough to rescue the movie from losing my affections about halfway through.

The things that were not so good for me are some fall back complaints, like they have many opportunities to get help along the way, but in true formula style, they don’t. The idea that someone will go toward danger is fine and dandy. We might all be curious once or twice when there is a strange noise outside an open window. The proble is that these people are relentlessly curious and it wears thin after a while. That’s the bigger thing that leaves this movie a little flat, unfortunately. It’s flat because by about the halfway mark I was over the tension, past the danger, and my initial recoil at the unseen dangers was uncoiled and I was on auto pilot.

Maybe I needed more blood, or maybe just more terror and less reveal. The build up to the actual “action” parts and lead up to the confrontation of victims and attackers did get my heart pounding, and then it leveled out and I felt pretty unsatisfied…poor me.

I wanted more fear throughout the whole movie, but it just didn’t happen. The Strangers is a good example of how a movie can have excellent bits and pieces, but the pieces don’t equal a great whole movie watching experience.

Audio & Video: 6/10
The Strangers is one of the darkest films I have seen in a long time. Some frames of the movie contain little to no information just shadows and noise. The Blu-Ray transfer does its best to keep up, but some scenes are often full of crushed blacks and soft focus due to the poor lighting conditions.

The standout element of the movie is the DTS-MA soundtrack. The movie relies on sound more than visuals to deliver its scare factor. The opening 30 minutes or so we are treated to some amazing pinpoint perfect sound which is a total showcase for surround sound. A scene where there is a knock on the door, then a bang on a adjacent wall, then a strange scraping sound that travels around the room is one of the most memorable moments. Overall I am not sure The Strangers is a great Blu-Ray showcase and would probably be just as enjoyable on DVD. It’s not even close to The Incredible Hulk or Iron Man, that’s for sure 🙂

Value: 4/10
This is a rental at best. It might even be a “wait for cable” flick. I liked it, but it’s a take it or leave it experience.

Overall Score 6/10