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The Strangers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Like Drag Me To Hell before it, here comes another more “modern” Collector’s Edition version from Scream Factory.  Its The Strangers which, doesn’t seem like it, is now ten years old this coming summer. And its taken that long for the film to get a sequel which is arriving very soon. They are updating it with a new HD master of both cuts of the film as well as some new interviews with a few folks (Not Liv Tyler, Scott Speeman or …man it would be awesome…Glenn Howerton). This is one of the spookiest films of the previous decade and I’m glad to see it getting some genuine double dip love here.  If you want to pre-order yourself to have it when it arrives next month, click the Amazon link below. It arrives on March 6th, which is just 3 days before the new one comes out!

Film 

Explore your worst fears with this shocking suspense thriller inspired by disturbing true events. After a 4 a.m. knock at the door and a haunting voice, Kristen McKay and James Hoyt find that their remote getaway becomes a night of psychological terror as three masked strangers invade. Faced with inscrutable tormentors, Kristen and James must go beyond what they think they’re able to endure if they have any hope to survive.

What a damn chilly, terrifying movie The Strangers is.  And its one I sorta took for granted when it came out, not seeing it until its first Blu-ray release.  For some reason, it just felt like another Vacancy to me (A kinda similarly premised movie that came out the year before). When I did finally see it, though, wow! I was pretty struck by how precise, unrelenting and horrifying this film was.

The Strangers is expertly crafted. Precise in every single move it makes. The film is a patient, slow burning one and it slowly, but sure gets to you.  When something strikes it hits just that more powerful because of the build up. We also start with two characters amidst their own drama prior to any attack, which helps us to sympathize and really push for them to get through this. This was already not a good night for Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, not its made MUCH MUCH worse.

Helping this is the careful work and bold decision-making with the film’s villains. Its almost like you get three Michael Myers from the first Halloween.  The simple masks with plainer faces make for some serious nightmares, but they also are patient and careful in their stalks and maneuvers. They speak, but they speak minimally. The BEST decision, and why this movie will hold up as a true classic of the genre,  is that we never see their face and are never given any sort of backlogged motivation. Liv Tyler’s character asks “Why are you doing this to us” and one responds “Because you were home” and that’s IT. And THAT folks, is far more terrifying than any possible other explanation because its too simple, too curious, too ambiguous and an added layer of insanity and cruelty. Its super chilly.

The Strangers holds up insanely well ten years later and I imagine it will hold up for many many more to come. I forgot to mention, but the score isn’t something hummable, but as a soundscape its super dreadful. There’s a sequel coming very soon, and hopefully it can manage to at least be half as good as this and not be tempting to fall into any trope of having to “explain” what you’re seeing. Just let it be. Apparently the next is going to be based off the actual “true events” that “Inspired” this one.  I’m looking forward to it!

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Both cuts have been taken from a new HD master of the 2K digital intermediate.  This one has a very dark, shadowy, almost natural look to it. While its not going to boast the most crisp or polished picture by its intended nature, it still looks really damn good and fully succeeds in the appearance it sets out to have. Details are still quite good and the textures and sharpness are as good as you’d like them. Its really is a haunting image and that transfer keeps it intact.

Depth:  Depth work is solid, with good depth of field between foreground and background imagery. Stalking scenes look pretty aces here where one of the masked villains is in the back while someone upfront is wandering around timidly. Movements are cinematic and smooth with no real distortion issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are really deep here, rich and savory in the darkness and shadows. Its truly a beauty to look at. Details are maintained best as intended. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This is a darker, more rustic approached. Colors do look natural with a little bit of a candle light kinda twist to them.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Closeup feature great facial details as well as most medium shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: This is like the the same 5.1 mix that came with the original release, and really, unless for some reason Shout Factory was going to remix this for Atmos, there is NO reason to replace it. Its a terrific track that really feels the balance of quieter and louder sequences with good precision. You get baited into comfort and as much as you feel the intensity of an attack. Effects are well engineered in their distinct flavor and layered depth. A truly top notch horror mix.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Shotgun blasts, car crashing, doors slamming and overall just loud score hits and such really pound as the subwoofer releases.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix has a lot of fun with all five speakers and their volume levels. There are loud bangs and little wisps that occur randomly in any corner that will definitely get you to jump or on your toes once or twice.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp. Effects on the masked characters come out sounding very present and lifelike.

Extras 

The Strangers – Collector’s Edition is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set with reverse cover art featuring an alternate poster design. The first disc ports over all the bonus material from the previous release.

Disc 1 – Theatrical Cut

The Element of Terror (SD, 9:12) 

Strangers at the Door (SD, 9:37) 

Deleted Scenes (SD, 4:56)

TV Spots (SD, 1:34)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 1:11)

Disc 2 – Unrated Cut

Defining Moments (HD, 29:37) – An interview with writer/director Bryan Bertino.  The director goes through his inspirations, what he though this film would do for horror and his career and goes on a very detailed look at the production of the film (Sets, actors, scenes, etc).

All the Right Moves (HD, 11:34) – An interview with actor Kip Weeks (Man in the Mask). His performance was inspired by a Gorilla he saw at the zoo. Given nothing more than just a character description before taking the part, he knew he could kill it. He also found Dollface to be the leader of the group, not him. He and Margolis both mention that they feel this is the group’s first killing experience.

Brains and Brawn (HD, 13:44) – An interview with actress Laura Margolis (Pin Up Girl). She goes over being just selected, not having to audition for the role, the physical demands of it, scaring Liv Tyler and how there were differences in the script/what was shot and how the final cut actually depicted it all. She was very happy with the final movie which is “Kind of a classic”.

Deep Cuts (HD, 20:29) – An interview with Kevin Greuert on editing The Strangers. He mentions its the first “slow burn” horror film he’d ever been apart of. Greuert mistakenly took the job on Strangers as he was finishing Saw III thinking it would be the end of that series only to find out that they were doing a fourth. Its a nice, introspective and detailed look at his choices in putting the film together and dealing with test screenings and more.

Still Gallery (HD, 4:02)

Summary 

The Strangers holds as one of the very best horror films of the 2000s. Fans of home invasion or slasher films that missed this and still haven’t seen it really need to stop right now and pre-order this to seek it out. Scream Factory’s update features a pretty terrific presentation to go along with some in depth new interviews that really paint a terrific angle on the film’s production history. Seeing what the extras were before, this truly is a solid leap over what we had before.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “The Strangers – Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Because I don’t own this on any format I decided this is the edition I should own based on your review of it all.