The Strangers Review (2008)

My History With the Film:
I’ll never forget watching The Strangers trailer for the first time. It was intense, creepy, and really stuck with you. I decided to re-watch The Strangers once it began streaming on Netflix in September 2018, but once the film began I realized that I had never seen the movie. I’m not a huge fan of home invasion flicks, mostly because they tend to drag, but I enjoyed The Strangers for the most part.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A couple are stalked late one night by three mysterious masked individuals.

What I Liked About It:
-The Strangers has a very eerie vibe to it. You can see this in the trailer and it continues throughout the film. There is some great cinematography and fantastic use of simple, yet creepy motions that keep you uneasy throughout the entire film.

-Liv Tyler really goes all out and makes this movie her own. I remember being shocked that she was in The Strangers, since I assumed horror was a stepdown from what she was used to acting in. Luckily for us, she did The Strangers and really brought her A game.

-I’ve mentioned it before, but what really gets me in a horror film is the use of uncontrollable sound. I don’t think there is anything more terrifying than a horrendous sound that you just cannot stop. In the first real invasion scene, there is a mashup of sounds that plays out wonderfully and really stressed me.

-The mask designs were all simple, creepy, and different enough that you could tell what attacker was doing what.

-I loved the wrap around story that begins and ends the film.

-The movie was shot in handheld and it works. There’s that light documentary film to the shots that immerses you, but doesn’t distract you from what’s going on in the scene.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Home invasion films tend to follow the same formula in that the attacks come in waves. I find home invasion films terrifying for about an hour, but after that I start reaching for my phone. The Strangers is one of those films that punishes you for not paying attention by providing so many creepy details in the background, but that isn’t to say that the film doesn’t drag in spots.

-You pretty much know how the film ends based on the opening scene. This took away the mystery of whether not our protagonists survive and I couldn’t help but think this hurt the effectiveness of some of the scenes.

Additional Notes:
-The exteriors were all shot on an actual farmhouse with a barn and long road, while the interiors were shot on a soundstage.

-Liv Tyler suffered from tonsillitis while filming.

-In order to get authentic screams from Liv Tyler, the director would tell her where to expect a sound and then have it come from a different direction.

The Strangers is the perfect film to watch while home alone late at night, preferably out in the country somewhere. It’s a movie that makes you uneasy and feels like it could really happen. Towards the end you almost get a Last House on the Left sort of vibe that these are just some sick individuals that you know exist somewhere, but hope you never run into.

I rate The Strangers as three out of five and say it’s worth a watch. It’s not going into any regular rotation for me, but I did enjoy my time with the film.

Final Destination 3 Review (2007)


My History With the Film:
I really enjoy the Final Destination franchise as a whole now in 2018. However in 2006, when Final Destination 3 came out, I was a little fatigued. I felt like Final Destination 3 was a low budget attempt to cash in on the Final Destination name. I distinctly remember turning it off right after the tanning bed scene that happens maybe twenty minutes into the flick. Maybe I was just in a bad mood that day or maybe I was wanting something more ground breaking, but I always wrote off Final Destination 3 as the terrible sequel that doesn’t deserve any credit.

I decided to watch it again, this time completely, and I found myself enjoying the movie a lot. I still feel it’s the weakest entry in the franchise, but it retains that Final Destination charm and the film works.

What the Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Following a rollercoaster disaster, a group of survivors attempt to thwart death’s plan to finish them off.

What I Liked About It:
-I hate roller coasters, like seriously hate them. I don’t like the idea of being strapped to something I have no control over and then sent along a bunch of wood or metal while just hoping it all holds together. So, naturally, the roller coaster scene is what I assume will happen whenever I strapped in on a rollercoaster. I can’t say that I’m terrified by it, because quite frankly, I’d never find myself in that situation to begin with.

-The cast doesn’t a decent enough job, but I feel like it may be the reason I find this sequel so weak. I’m a big fan of Amanda Crew (Sex Drive, Silicon Valley), so it was a pleasant surprise to see her pop up in this movie. 

-The most effective death scenes are the ones that are simple, probable, and can happen anywhere. In Final Destination 3, there is a scene that takes place in a drive thru and involves a huge rolling truck that is absolutely terrifying because it’s something that could happen to anyone, pretty much anywhere. When a scene sticks with you weeks after watching the movie, you know it’s effective, and that scene stuck with me.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The film didn’t try anything new which worked for and against it. It was very formulaic, and that made it feel old, but I’m also glad they didn’t try and reinvent the wheel.

-The ending was bad. I was not a fan of the subway scene.

Additional Notes:
-The cast members had to ride the rollercoaster 26 times in one night to get the shot for the premonition scene.

-Tony Todd (the mortician in the first two films) provides the voice of the devil above the rollercoaster as well as the speaker’s voice in the subway at the end of the film that says, “This is the end of the line.”
-Like the previous two films, the ending was changed after testing badly at a test screening.
-The movie opened ten days after post production ended.
-Notable cast members in other horror films:
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing (2011), 10 Cloverfield Lane)
  • Amanda Crew (The Haunting in Connecticut)
  • Kris Lemche (Ginger Snaps)
  • Jesse Moss (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, The Uninvited)
Final Destination 3 is a good time, despite being a weak link in the franchise. The movie is worth watching only because it sticks with what makes Final Destination work, which are outrageous kills that send a chill down your spin, while making you cheer at the same time.

I wouldn’t start with Final Destination 3, but if you decided to check out the franchise then don’t skip out on three. I’d say the film it’s a three and a half out of five and is skippable if you are just looking for a horror movie to watch, but if you are doing a watch through of the whole series then be sure to check it out.