Film / The Strangers

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/strangers_ver4_6030.jpg

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, titled The Strangers: Prey at Night is set to be released March 9, 2018.

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:

  • Adult Fear: Having your home invaded. Especially when it's by people who go out of their way to screw with you psychologically in every way they can, have no real motive for doing it other than because they want to and take turns killing you after they've had their fun.
  • 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.
  • Broken Record: The shock of seeing someone outside makes Kristen crash backwards, resulting in "QUICKSILVER GIRL" being repeated over and over until it's taken off.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: The couple are (maybe) dead, the Strangers get away scot-free to find and torment more victims and a pair of boys have come upon the carnage and are very likely suffering mental scars as a result.
  • Dull Surprise: The two boys who arrive at and explore the house after the Strangers have seemingly killed Kristen and James. At least, expressions-wise; the 911 call one of them makes to emergency services in the opening is laden with distress and sadness.
  • The Faceless: The Strangers. They're always masked with the exception of three scenes, and even then, we never get a good look at their faces; the mundane Reaction Shots suggest their faces are normal, but this just adds to the horror.
    • Near the beginning, the blonde girl (Dollface) knocks on the door and asks for someone who isn't there, which turns out to be the reason they were attackedbecause they were home. She isn't wearing a mask, but her face is still deliberately cast in shadow with only basic details (her eyes, eyebrows and mouth) properly visible — presumably so they couldn't identify her if they tried to call the police.
    • Near the end, the Strangers gather before the couple, whom they have tied to a pair of chairs, and remove their masks one by one to let Kristen and James see their faces. The camera always cuts away before we actually see them, though.
    • Finally, during the penultimate scene where the Strangers are leaving the crime scene, they stop their truck beside a pair of boys handing out Mormon pamphlets so Dollface can ask them for one; some of the shots allow a distant, vague look at Dollface and Pin-up Girl's faces that gives away no major details.
  • The Family That Slays Together: The Strangers appear to be a simple three-person family — The Masked Man and Pin-Up Girl as a married couple, and Dollface as their daughter, likely a teenager.
  • For the Evulz: The killers' motive (and the movie's tagline) is Because You Were Home.
  • Harmful to Minors: The opening includes two boys witnessing the aftermath of the carnage, overlaid by one of them trying to call 911 to report the crime despite his distraught sobbing.
  • Hell Is That Noise: QUICKSILVER GIRL... *Skip* QUICKSILVER GIRL... *Skip* QUICKSILVER GIRL... *Skip*
  • How We Got Here: The movie begins with the end and then rewinds.
  • It Gets Easier: As the Strangers drive away, Pin-Up Girl tells her daughter, "It'll be easier next time." The implications are unpleasant.
  • Karma Houdini: The killers suffer no retribution for their actions.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Strangers.
  • Mind Screw: The Strangers are extremely enigmatic, with the film deliberately avoiding explaining the logic of their actions beyond its most basic interpretation.
  • No Name Given: The Strangers. They 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.
  • Power Trio: The Strangers. They don't really have distinct personalities, and are differentiated mostly by Chromatic Arrangement.
    • The Masked Man: The only man of the family, a slightly schlubby man in a dirty brown-beige suit. Wears a sack-mask on his face like a scarecrow with eye-holes and a curly smile over his mouth; it makes him seem bald, but his unmasking shows that he does have hair.
    • Pin-Up Girl: A woman possibly in her thirties or forties, with shoulder length black hair. Dressed in a simple getup of light red top, dark red pants and a spotty black blouse underneath. Her mask includes fake hair curls and light make-up.
    • Dollface: A very young woman, possibly a teenager, with long blonde hair. Prominently wears a dark green jacket and dark blue jeans, with a tank top underneath. Her mask covers her eyes with weird, black shapes like a deranged cartoon, and other minor details seemingly designed to draw attention to her youth.
  • The Quiet One: All three of the Strangers. They barely talk at all, and when they do, they don't mince words and speak in a flat, calm voice. The Masked Man goes the entire movie without saying a single word.
  • 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.
  • Sequel Hook: The Strangers driving away into the distance, with a passing comment about the next time being easier.
  • 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 Un-Reveal: At the end the Strangers 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.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheStrangers