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  • Writer's pictureJamie

The Strangers: Chapter 1 - Review

There is certainly worse out there, some of them have been seen and reviewed by me this year, however The Strangers: Chapter One is not a horror I am going to look back on fondly. It has a lot of fine elements, and some pretty negative aspects to it too. Notably, the premise is pretty interesting and the story itself has a good setup. I think it is so so so let down by the dialogue in the film, and it's flimsy commitment to scares. The runtime is short through, so even through some of the difficult lines of dialogue, they don’t last too long anyway. 

Our story plonks us in Oregon, with a drive ahead of Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Froy Gutierrez). To Portland, and a new land of job possibilities for Maya. Maya and Ryan are celebrating their five year anniversary, when they stop off for some food in Venus, with a population of 468. The couple heads into a local diner, bragging about their cold drinks and aversion to vegetarianism. 

Whoops, the car won’t start, so the conveniently located mechanic offers his help, and the conveniently helpful wait staff offers their services to drive the couple to an “internet house” or as we call it, an AirBnB. They arrive at the cabin with absolutely nothing around it, settling in to a night of being unplugged and isolated from the world. However, some uninvited guests show up at the door, causing some perilous interactions for the two, very much putting a downer on their anniversary celebrations. 

The story is not much more complicated than that, with basically the only detail that I left out being Ryan’s asthma, representing the short breath brethren out there. His lungs get the couple into more than one sticky situation in the film, but the depth to his character is unmatched. 

Froy Gutierrez’ Ryan in particular is given nothing to do in this film, even in scenes where he stands in front of the camera, he gets no dialogue, or some of the worst lines of the film, there is no inbetween for this boy. Madelaine Petsch on the other hand is expected to carry every second of the film on her shoulders. Not sure if this is to do with her producer credit but she really doesn’t phone in this performance. At times, it shoots across into some wild overreacting but for the most part, she does a good job with the insane situation that this story is.

The film looks really good, they got a good location, creepy and desolate, knowing how to shoot the cabin to make it feel neverending, filled with the possibilities of horror and peril. They don’t do a lot with the opportunities that the camera provides but they are certainly there. 

The music left a little bit to be desired to me, not a whole lot going on to kick this into higher gears or linger on the tension. This is also down to the editing, which is choppy, you barely get any time to just sit and wonder if something bad is going to happen, because Maya has already moved her head from the centre frame, and we can see the danger. 

The Strangers is a good concept for horror but does not push as far as it needs to be effective. There is a lot left for the film to do with the concept that it just leaves on the table. The writing needs to be a lot more “human” because there are some lines that I do think Siri could write more lifelike. Thankfully, the team behind the film have two more sequels planned to hopefully knock it out of the park next time, or the one after that.


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