Film / The Strangers

Kristen: Why are you doing this to us?
Dollface: Because you were home.

This 2008 horror movie is the debut of filmmaker Bryan Bertino. It's about a couple, Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman), being ambushed in James' family's vacation house by mysterious strangers apparently For the Evulz. A sequel is currently in some stage of development.

Not to be confused with the 2006 horror film Ils (aka Them), which has a similar premise. Or with the 2016 Korean horror film The Wailing, which is also known as The Strangers in some countries.

Tropes used in this film:

  • Bathtub Scene: Liv Tyler takes a bath before the terror starts. We get to see her lovely sensual knee caps, possibly as a call back to Stealing Beauty.
  • Car Fu: The Strangers use their car to slam into the couple's to prevent their escape.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The male lead makes a dash for the car to see if it's still working. He sees that all the windows of the car have been smashed in, but doesn't bother to look around his car at all before getting in. He doesn't get killed (there), but there WAS someone in the backseat.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The first twenty-thirty minutes of the movie.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Kristen is barefoot for the majority of the movie.
  • Dull Surprise: The children at the end who explore the Hoyt's house after the Strangers have seemingly killed them. Okay, you can't always expect much from child actors, but how hard is it to show a little discomfort?
  • The Faceless: The killers as they're always masked and their faces are not revealed to the audience.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The three masked people, presumably.
  • For the Evulz: The killers' motive (and the movie's tagline) is Because You Were Home.
  • How We Got Here: The movie begins with the end and then rewinds.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Strangers.
  • No Name Given: The Strangers are credited as "Doll Face", "The Masked Man", and "Pin-Up Girl", but none of those names are heard in the film.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: This was the main source of the scares in the movie. How effective the scares are depends on the viewer (see YMMV).
  • Offscreen Teleportation: The Strangers are adepts at this.
  • Red Herring: The smoke detector. When Kristen takes it off of the ceiling early on and leaves it lying on the floor, it seems like a foregone conclusion that the strangers will later try to burn the house down. They don't.
  • Too Dumb to Live: All the good guys. Kristen just runs around the house terrified and manages to injure herself, James manages to tell his girlfriend to stay in the middle of danger while he goes looking for help, and their friend Mike, despite the various things suggesting foul play (including a rock thrown on his windshield) does not think for one second about calling the police or even calling for his friends which leads to Accidental Murder.
  • The Unreveal: The Strangers at the end take off their masks but the movie cuts away before you can see their faces.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Director Bryan Bertino recounted a story from his childhood when a stranger came to his house at night, asking for a woman that wasn't there. The next morning, it turned out that the houses that didn't answer the door had been broken into.
  • White Mask of Doom: The Strangers hide their faces using these.