I consider myself a giant pussy and tend to stay clear of any scary horror movies. Anyone remotely shocked by that statement? Didn't think so. Well, for whatever reason as a teenager I found myself watching 'The Strangers' with a group of friends. One of the worst decisions of my young life at the time.
For the next year I didn't sleep.
Anytime my parents left me alone in the house at night I assumed my life was about to end. Any sound, whether it be wind chimes jingling outside or a branch breaking off a tree, I just chalked that up to a family of home invaders approaching my front door with masks and knives ready to carve me up. I grew up on a dimly lit street in a suburban New Jersey neighborhood. Okay not exactly a cabin in the woods like the movie, but I convinced myself a home invasion like this could happen any night. That's what 'The Strangers' did to me. It's that good of a horror movie.
More than 15 years later, we're messing with it.
When I saw the OG 'The Strangers' movie never did I think, yeah this is a film that's going to be followed by FOUR additional films. Sadly that's the state of Hollywood these days. Take some original, authentic material and milk it dry for every last dollar. And for the record, I actually didn't hate the sequel, Prey At Night, but there wasn't the same bone-chilling, breath-holding tenseness the original captured.
Well, Director Renny Harlin is coming out with not one, not two, but THREE movies based on 'The Strangers' ALL NEXT YEAR. I mean what are we doing here?
The Strangers: Chapter 1 stars Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale) as a young woman named Maya starting a new life with her fiancé Ryan, played by Froy Gutierrez (Teen Wolf, Cruel Summer). During a road trip stop at a remote vacation rental in the woods, they become the prey of a mysterious gang of masked strangers who attack without warning or reason. Harlin explains that the first film, written by Alan R. Cohen & Alan Freedland, "is close to the original movie in its set-up of a young couple in an isolated environment in a house and a home invasion happening for random reasons."
The director teases that the trilogy, which is completed by The Strangers: Chapter 2 and The Strangers: Chapter 3, will "explore what happens to the victims of this kind of violence and who the perpetrators are of this kind of violence. Where are they coming from and why?"
Part of what made The Strangers OG film so creepy and haunting is that you had no idea why the killers were doing this. You're just left to assume they're so evil and sick in the head that they just prey on these people hidden away in a cabin for fun. I don't need an origins story about these masked lunatics. Names? Faces? Backstory? Get that out of here.
I also don't really understand the director's quote about this not being a remake.
"When this opportunity came to me, the idea of not doing a remake or a reboot but doing a trilogy based on the original film, I thought it was an incredible opportunity," he says.
A trilogy based on the original film with new actors is… a remake, no? I get the 2nd and 3rd movies are going to focus on the background and why, but let's call a spade a spade here, Chapter One is just doing this story over again. Sixteen years later we're remaking an incredible horror movie with almost no chance it holds a candle to the original. Sigh.
Maybe I'm being too cynical. It's possible this guy knows what he's doing and the idea of putting out three movies in one year is kinda wild. He shot them all at the same time, which seems damn near impossible.
Harlin shot all three films simultaneously last year in Slovakia. The director says the production was, "the challenge of a lifetime, but I also really embraced it. On a Monday morning, I could be shooting the second chapter, and Monday afternoon I could be shooting the first chapter, and Tuesday morning I could be shooting the third chapter. it was incredibly demanding for the actors, for the continuity in terms of the make-up and wardrobe, and for my director of photography, because we wanted to create a visual language that develops so that the movies get bigger, more epic, as we go [on]. It just kept all of our juices pumping all the time."
Now I'm not entirely familiar with Madelaine Petsch, known best from Riverdale, but her being in this doesn't hurt. Okay I probably don't pay to see this in theaters, but when it hits streaming I suppose I'll flip it on. Twist my arm Madelaine, or stab me.