THE STRANGERS (***) - Starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman.
Written & Directed by Brian Berlito.
A movie with actual suspense. If guys want a movie where their chick
will hold tight to their arm for an hour, this is that movie. So
because I liked it, let me address its problems first.
1. The two leads. Liv Tyler does okay, but I think a smaller, more
skilled actress could have brought more to it. Scott Speedman is
2. The ending. The suspense builds and builds, but in the end, it
fizzles out. Berlito knows how to take us on a journey but not quite
how to make it pay off.
3. The occasional stupid-person behavior. Berlito really knows how
to let a camera linger on a room and make us sit on the edge of our
seat with wonder on what we can't see just off-frame. The rare
releases in tension don't come from the story letting us relax, but
come from people doing typical horror-movie stuff, like splitting up,
or not running like heck when the opportunity presents itself.
So, why did I still like it? Because for so much of it, I felt that
tension. When Liv is slowly walking from room to room, we can see
down the hall behind her. Is someone going to pop out? And the
three strangers, they don't run. They just appear there. We see
them slowly walk, but it's usually behind the person. When the tall
guy holds an ax, there's that conflict of suspense. You want the guy
he's stalking to turn around, but you also know if he does, that ax
is going to swing.
The marketing said it was inspired by true events, but when I read
the crime case it claims to be inspired by, it has virtually nothing
to do with it. By its logic, all horror movies are inspired by true