By Steve Newton
According to the on-screen message in its opening scene, The Strangers: Prey at Night was “based on true events”. It kinda makes you wonder if anyone was ever actually stalked by an axe-wielding psycho at a trailer-park swimming pool while Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” blasted over the outdoor PA.
In this sequel to 2008’s The Strangers—which saw Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman menaced by masked marauders at an isolated vacation home—the victims-to-be are a typical American family heading out to visit relatives at a secluded mobile-home park. Devoted parents Cindy and Mike (Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson) are accompanied by squabbling kids Kinsey and Luke (Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman, Bill’s son). Kinsey’s in a particularly foul mood because she’s being sent to boarding school, and we can tell she’s trouble because of the Ramones T-shirt.
After 30 minutes or so of boring family drama, something actually happens. Wandering around the abandoned trailer park—people only want to holiday like white trash during peak season, apparently—the kids spy a home with its front door wide-open. Brazenly entering in the hopes of raiding the liquor stash, they hear a dog banging around in the bedroom and make a gruesome discovery.
The rest of the film sees the family desperately struggling to survive against a trio of taunting, merciless assailants armed with knives and axes and wearing the exact same masks from the original. The moral of the story is not to take your loved ones for granted, I guess. Love them as much as you can before they get pinned inside a pickup by a chunk of wood in their gut and left at the mercy of an icepick-wielding sicko with a sack over his head.
While the end credits rolled at the press screening I attended, a fellow reviewer said that he thought Prey at Night was better than the other new revenge-driven flick about masked killers he’d just seen, so I wouldn’t rush out and see Death Wish either, if I were you.