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The Strangers - 1/31 Days of Halloween

Greetings, boils and ghouls! October is upon us again, and in the Whitlatch household, that means 31 days of Halloween! Every day this month, I'll be watching one scary flick a day, counting down to Halloween!

Today's film was suggested by Melissa Dally, and it's The Strangers starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman in the first role I've seen him in since the Underworld movies. I had to watch this one a day early because Netflix is taking it down today, which is a bit of a bummer.

The Strangers opens with a pair of Mormon boys stumbling onto a grisly crime scene and struggling to describe the carnage to a 9-1-1 operator. The film then flashes back to the night before and follows a couple whose relationship is on the rocks after Kristen (Tyler) turns down James' (Speedman) marriage proposal. After a few awkward hours together in James' parents' vacation house, the couple start to kiss and make up, but then a strange girl knocks on the door, asking for someone named Tamara. James and Kristen inform her she has the wrong house, and she leaves. When James leaves Kristen alone to buy her more cigarettes, the strange girl returns, once again asking for Tamara... but this time, she isn't alone.

For the next several hours, James and Kristen are besieged by three masked stalkers who will not let them leave, and always seem to be one step ahead of them.

The chilling ending hints at a sequel, which it appears became reality this year.

I found the film to be particularly unsettling, because I'm one of those folks who jumps whenever there's an unexpected knock at the door, and the heavy knocks issued by the masked strangers are like a coffin nail being driven home. The opening's assertion that the film is based on true events adds another degree of paranoia. As I watched, the film's tagline (which is later uttered by one of the stalkers) "Because you were home," made me recall details of the LaBianca murders, committed by the Manson Family in 1969. While the carnage portrayed in the film are less "Helter Skelter" and seem to be brought on more by the strangers' boredom, the similarities are there, nonetheless.

Overall, I enjoyed it. This is certainly one to watch in the dark... alone if you're feeling particularly masochistic.

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