During my screening of The Strangers: Prey at Night, I noticed a young couple sitting in front of me. The girl was very scared and huddled close to her boyfriend, as a means of comfort and trust between the two. It was a very nice moment to see a young couple so comfortable with themselves in the classic scenario of a movie date. I thought to myself, “I bet they’ll go on to live a happy life together.” Perhaps they’ll stay together throughout their twenties while she goes back to community college to get a culinary degree and one day open a trendy restaurant of her own. He’ll work his way up the ladder at a nearby branch of Comcast despite being picked on by his higher-ups as “the new kid.” This will cause an inferiority complex to build deep inside him, eventually making him flaccid and unable to please his girlfriend sexually. She’ll say that she supports him no matter what because he stood by her while she went to night school and learned to properly make spinach quiche. But then her restaurant closes down after the summertime because someone complained about a roach in her salad (only to get a free meal, mind you) and she ends up working in the kitchen of a diner, ashamed at her failure and ending up humping the closing-shift busboy to feel alive again. Her boyfriend finds out, is devastated, breaks up with her after so many years together but lets her stay in the house they lived in together out of guilt and that he’ll never stop loving her. She keeps working at the diner until she decides to teach at that same community college she thought she’d never see again while he moves back in with his mom and starts writing Riverdale fan fiction. As Ian Curtis once said, “Love will tear us apart.”
Anyway, The Strangers: Prey at Night is a sequel to the 2008 slasher movie The Strangers. It stars Christina Hendricks, the love interest from The Ring, Bailee Madison and some guy with a tiny face. It’s about a family who drives to an abandoned trailer park and gets stalked by three people in masks. The titular “strangers” spend the night hunting down the parents and the kids.
Speaking of kids, there was a group of teens sitting behind me during the movie huddled together and giggling throughout the movie. It reminded me of the times I went to the movies with my friends when we were in high school. It’d be a brief sweet release from the mundane adolescence of life. I remember I would hitch a ride on the community bus at 5 a.m. every morning after tending to the chickens of grandma’s wheat farm and hustling to school to learn about agriculture. I couldn’t stay in school long as I had to get to my shift at the steel mill by 3 p.m. The skin on my hands would turn black from smelting and moving poles along the assembly line to make ends meet. I would sit on the roof of the mill while eating my dinner of gruel and peanuts, look out to the horizon as the sun sets, think about how I don’t remember what my father’s voice sounds like or my mother’s hugs felt like and shed a single tear. I couldn’t release more bodily fluid than that because the heat of the mill would make me pass out and I couldn’t leave grandma’s farm unattended. I’d end the night at the local bar, getting kicked out after being underage and trying to suck down an entire bottle of Fireball Whiskey while singing, “Tainted Love.” Such are the problems of the life of a 14-year-old Missouri farmer who dreams of going on The Voice and stroking Blake Shelton’s impeccable facial hair.
Speaking of problems, The Strangers: Prey at Night’s biggest is that it’s not scary at all. It’s 85 minutes long and persistently tedious and bland. It wants to be a cool 80s B-level slasher but doesn’t have enough camp or gore to make it memorable. There’s only two scary scenes in the movie: one with the brother getting stabbed in a pool and the other with the sister in a truck. All actors involved are bad except for a dog that convincingly ran out of a room one time.
Time is a funny thing, like the time I met President Nixon. I had just come back from the jungles of Vietnam after escaping an internment camp with my platoon by making a raft out of spoons. It made Charlie so proud (not the enemy, my sergeant Charlie Horse. Great guy, he never made it back). Anyway, I remember walking into the White House in 1971 and took a wrong turn on the way to bathroom. I walked into this dark room with a bunch of guys in suits and giant green heads using some kind of satellite dish to communicate to its mothership. Or something like that, I was on massive amounts of opiates at the time so what do I know? Anywho, I met Nixon. He had very sweaty hands and wouldn’t stop looking at an open drawer at his desk. He smelled like day old fish and I could see the maggots fornicating in his hair. Out of nowhere, he stuck his other hand deep in my grundle, wiggled it around a bit and whispered it my ear, “Does it feel the same as it once was, Mary?” I didn’t mind too much because again, opiates, and Nixon always had a nice voice. Like my father when I used to be able to remember him.
Anyway, The Strangers: Prey at Night is bad. It’s boring and tepid at and a complete waste of your time. So much so that you too may spend the runtime of the film inventing elaborate tales in your head. See Annihilation instead, that’s a great movie. Thank you and god bless America.