The throwback (and sequel) we've been waiting for.
I love horror films. I absolutely adore them. To me, they are some of the most engaging and enjoyable films to watch. This is true about the original "The Strangers" and it's incredibly fun sequel "The Strangers: Prey at Night." It's hard for any sequel to come close to the original, that is doubly true about horror and comedy films. It's even more difficult for to top the original, but that's exactly what this film does. With its mix of callbacks/homages to the original and using an 80s vibe that works super well (especially in the last half of the film), the movie fixes all of the problems of the original while also carving out space for itself.
The movie kicks off with a scene that shows an immediate improvement upon the first film. A small contained sequence in which the Strangers attack an old couple. This got me revved up and eliminated one of the most annoying things about the original film. While I loved the build and how the film took it's time to develop an atmosphere, it always felt like it was holding back the creepy titular characters and what they do to people. The new film eschews that for a scene that allows the audience to recognize the fact that there are more creepy (and sometimes silly) moments coming in the film. It allowed me to more readily invest in the characters that I knew were heading into imminent danger at the hands of our mysterious trio of killers.
From there the film just nails the tone of an old 80s slasher flick. I liked all the characters and wanted them all to live. Which is what I'd say is the most modern part of the film. Instead of jocks and your stereotypical group of idiot teenagers, the film just follows a family that is having a few problems with things happening in their lives. I just found it easier to invest in these characters than I did most other characters in the older slasher films. But that's not the only great thing about this movie. There are several sequences set to popular 80s songs that are truly awesome. One such scene is a pool scene set to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" that I just found to be so satisfying and enjoyable that I couldn't look away. These sequences may be kind of silly but they still retain tension and most of all remain incredibly fun to watch. Not only that but the lead performance from Bailee Madison is badass, intense, and really enjoyable. She's a lovable and believable hero who goes above and beyond to give the film authenticity.
The reason I really do adore this movie is I just had such a great time watching it. I was invested and having a blast at the same time. Maybe I'm a sucker for these flicks, but the point still stands that if a movie can be this fun and still be creepy it is doing something right. The best way to describe this film would be a creepy and fun romp that does justice to its premise and the promise of the films it so lovingly homages. A throwback that does justice to the 80s slasher flick and the original smash hit film it's based on. If that doesn't make you want to see this film, I don't know what would. [B-]