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Strange outing

Strange outing

This film may work for only those who haven’t seen the original.

Film: The Strangers: Chapter 1

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Madelaine Petsch, Ryan Bown, Matus Lajcak, Rachel Shenton, Megan Suri and Gabriel Basso

Johnson Thomas

The 2008 film ‘The Strangers’ was indeed a nerve-wracking experience. Sixteen years later, we get a rather watered-down reboot that fails to make the accumulated experience memorable. ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’ is neither stylish, nor energetic. This prequel of sorts follows the framework of the original almost beat by beat. The only variation is the couple having to face a rather hostile population of small-town Venus, Oregon.

The silly tone and unrefined script, peopled with two relatively cute but unfamiliar main characters that we never get to know well enough, fail to make this an experience that comes close to matching the original.

This reboot journey to rekindle the chilling essence of the original stumbles and fails because of a lack of originality. It has been updated to today’s setting, but the intelligence level is down several notches. The home-invasion set-up doesn’t have anything new to offer.

Director Renny Harlin’s attempt at a reboot trilogy is founded on wornout tropes. The narrative follows Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Froy Gutierrez) on a road trip. They are left stranded in a remote Airbnb as a prey of the franchise’s notorious masked antagonists. Dollface (Rachel Shenton), Pin-Up Girl (Megan Suri), and The Man in the Mask (Gabriel Basso) delight in psychological and physical torment and the remote location creates a sense of isolation.

We really don’t get why the folks there are so unaccommodating of the cosy twosome. When the Strangers finally come on the scene, they behave like vandals rather than engaging in the terrifying game of cat and mouse, like in the original. The couple is petrified but their wounds are initially all self-inflicted — while fumbling about in the dark.

The three killers seem more laidback and willing to play the waiting game, while the couple who could have saved themselves a lot of the misery they are handed out fail to showcase the survival instincts.

Harlin uses the original’s template but his idea of scares is as different from that of Brian Bertino’s (director of the original ‘The Strangers’) as chalk from cheese. What we get here are bland, unimaginative recreations of the original’s most fraught, scary moments.

This film may work for those who haven’t seen the original, not the rest.