Quantcast

The Strangers: Prey At Night – Unrated (Blu-ray Review)

Ten years following the original film, that had a highly profitable box office run and a nice legacy on home video, audiences were treated to another deadly visit from The Strangers with Prey At Night. While it had a quieter run, it still found itself profitable and likely will find some sort of cult reception on home video. Will this be the last we see of this incredibly mysterious and merciless trio? It did take ten years to get a second one and this one didn’t seem to be as well received. Hey, maybe we’ll get a straight to video one for the third outing, who knows. For the Blu-ray release, they’ll be giving you an unrated version of the film as well as some bonus features. You can pre-order the film using the Amazon link below to have it on the day of release, June 12th.

Film 

Mike and his wife Cindy take their son and daughter on a road trip that becomes their worst nightmare. The family members soon find themselves in a desperate fight for survival when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park that’s mysteriously deserted — until three masked psychopaths show up to satisfy their thirst for blood.

With the first film ten years ago, The Strangers: Prey At Night has the luxury of some distance with it and its predecessor. However, it does want to do things its own way, push the concept to a new place and be its own character. Its almost like you picked another Popsicle from the box and it was cherry this time instead of grape. And that works a lot to the film’s benefit.

Where The Strangers was a grim, haunting account that felt very real, Prey At Night opts for a more stylish touch and builds itself with its love of 1980s slasher films. Its never off base from what the first one was, however. That’s one of the biggest surprises with the film. It really GETS who these villains are and makes no attempt to neuter, unveil or overexplain them. This film knows exactly why they worked the first time around and keeps that card in secure in its hand.

One drastic departure from the original is the look of the film and almost a feel to it. Director Johannes Roberts is very much into some high character visuals and needle drops for scoring a scene. Prey at Night is a lot more colorful in appearance and peppy in its sound. Its clear he likes to ironically put upbeat bubbly songs set to murdering, but it works. The whole thing culminates in an incredible sequence at the trailer park pool set to Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” that is heavily draped in neon glow as the masked man swings an axe does battle with a protagonist underwater. You may think “Total Eclipse of the Heart” feels to easy, but really, it comes back around and works as the showstopping piece in the film. Its almost easy enough to recommend the film on that sequence alone.

There are surprises to be had as well as effective jump scares and kills, but not everything works here. The setting of the film really doesn’t work as well as the previous one. Its a little too open and the geography of the trailer park never feels laid out well. But, its not a house and its a different thing altogether, but the entrapment/stuck in here doesn’t feel all to stuck. Another thing is that the family’s issues they were dealing with before all this aren’t really incredibly engaging or enthralling. Its enough, its just not the most compelling thing.

The Strangers: Prey At Night maintains the integrity of our villains with the story in a similar idea to the first one, just the way they tell it is completely different. The devil is truly in the details for this one, where I probably like the first one better, but this one finds itself being really fun in its own way. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a fan battle over which film was better. There’s a heavy infusion of style and character to go on this one as opposed to the first one being quite straight faced and doing a tradition subgenre very well.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Strangers: Prey At Night is a very dark film and uses pretty specific lighting that doesn’t jibe with having the most pristine image. This all works in its favor for enjoyment of the film, I will admit. Its never so dark you can’t tell what’s going on. We just don’t have a whole lot of details to rave about. The image does find crispness when its in well lit scenes. They are going for an effect with this look and it is effective, it just won’t be taking away any wards for its picture quality. But its more than fine or above average.

Depth:  Its pretty decent with spacing when the lighting gives it a chance to. Movements are smooth, with minimal blurring/jittering issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are really really deep and dark in this. Fortunately the image handles it very well. It does swallow up a lot of detail but there aren’t any crushing problems.

Color Reproduction: There is a slight yellow feel to all the scenes, thanks to the lighting, both inside trailer and out in the park at night. The highlight pieces of the whole thing are the truck on fire and the neon lights and everything about the pool sequence. The red on Bailee Madison’s shirt pops in different moments. Blood also looks rich.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout. Facial features are pretty good in close ups, but medium shots tend to vary. It may be the lighting choices in the film.

Noise/Artifacts: There are some noise issues time to time due to some of the darkness meeting with lighting at times.

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Descriptive Video Service (Theatrical Only)

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The Strangers: Prey at Night has an effective and fun 5.1 mix for its horror delights. Volume placement is key here as many times this thing will lull you into a specific default for vocals and effects, only to up to ante and get a natural (And well earned) jolt out of you. Pin-Up Girl’s entrance is a doozy. The pop songs in the score take center stage whenever they show up and all their nuances are quite clear. Its not a booming track, but its definitely a very effective one for a slasher.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Nothing too extremely deep, but door pounding, engines rev’ing, gunfire and other sounds pulsate enough for an effective subwoofer experience.

Surround Sound Presentation: This mix has really specific placement for maximum jolting effect with many of its sounds. They also craft some good volume placement and tease around the room with good speaker interplay and sound travel.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals

Extras 

The Strangers: Prey At Night – Unrated comes with the DVD edition and a digital copy of the film. You have the option to watch the film in either its Theatrical cut or the Unrated version.

Alternate Ending (HD, 1:51)

“Prep For Night” Music Video: Director’s Cut (HD, 2:29) 

A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey At Night (HD, 1:50) – A very brief EPK thing about the film, that is pretty useless.

Family Fights Back (HD, 2:02) – Similar to the previous one, it focuses on the protagonists in the film that basically tells us the set up of the film.

The Music Of The Strangers: Prey At Night (HD, 2:46) – The director talks the John Carpenter vibe he wanted to get across as well as his love of 80s pop songs which he used precisely for certain parts throughout the film. This is the most useful contribution to the bonus features. Bailee Madison chimes in with her thoughts on the music as well.

Summary 

The Strangers: Prey At Night is a fun throwback, while also carving its own identity through its various homages and stylistic choices. It comes to Blu-ray with a solid visual and audio presentation that is solid enough a deal for the low budget film. Aside from one (That’s also super quick and brief like the rest), the bonus featurettes don’t offer anything of real value. The film is strong enough to warrant a purchase to go with your copy of the first one, but with the weak bonus offerings, you may want for it to inevitable drop down in price a few bucks before putting it on your shelf.

Share

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. No Comments