By John Mulderig
NEW YORK (CNS) — Random murder is the order of the day in the sadistic horror flick “The Strangers: Prey at Night” (Aviron).
Director Johannes Roberts’ sequel to 2008’s “The Strangers” shows none of the relative restraint of the original — which only opened the floodgates of blood as the action reached its wrap-up. Instead, the new film waxes gruesome and gory almost from the start.
The sketchy plot finds ordinary middle-class couple Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and Mike (Martin Henderson), their rebellious teen daughter, Kinsey (Bailee Madison), and her more compliant older brother, Luke (Lewis Pullman), setting off to visit relatives at a lakeside trailer park on their way to drop Kinsey off at a boarding school she vehemently does not want to attend. On arrival, they find the place eerily deserted.
Things get a bit more unsettling when an unknown young woman repeatedly knocks on their door, asking for someone named Tamara. As viewers of the first movie will remember, this turns out to be the arbitrary prelude to all manner of nastiness.
In short order, the family is set upon by a trio of masked, marauding strangers (Damian Maffei, Emma Bellomy and Lea Enslin) engaged in a wholly unmotivated but relentless killing spree. As the villains delight in inflicting suffering for its own sake, and engage in some Manson family-like finger painting using their victims’ blood, nothing is left to moviegoers’ imagination.
Morally, the proceedings only degenerate still further once the hunted start to fight back. The audience is invited to revel viscerally in their brutal revenge. Before the final credits roll, characters on either side of the chase have been stabbed, impaled and burned to a crisp.
Potential patrons should, accordingly, take a warning from the picture’s tasteless advertising tagline: “Let Us Prey.” No, let us not.
The film contains excessive bloody violence, including acts of vengeance, a couple of uses of profanity, frequent rough and occasional crude language, some sexual references and two obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.