• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Strangers

TITLE: The Strangers

YEAR: 2008

GENRE: Horror

Home invasions as a form of burglary  is on the rise in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 8000 home invasions in the United States every year, and over 60% of those are committed against total strangers. Almost half of these home invasions involve the homeowners being injured or killed in one way or another, usually with a knife or some other sharp object. Home invasions are the inspiration for the horror film The Strangers, and using modern headlines helps this film work beyond the expectations of most Hollywood horror productions.

After attending a wedding, young suburban couple James (played by Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) venture up to a family vacation home in the middle of nowhere for a romantic weekend. Kristen starts hearing stranger noises, but James dismisses the noises as natural sounds not heard in the city. When Kristen sees a masked stranger outside in the yard she becomes frightened, but there is a lot more to what is happening: three criminals (Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, and Laura Margolis) wearing masks have randomly picked James and Kristen for a home invasion and a horrific night that involves murder and mayhem. James and Kristen’s idyllic weekend has now turned into a fight for survival and a frantic effort to escape the threesome’s rampage.

The Strangers is not what I would call a classic horror film, but it does deliver enough quality thrills and frights to make it a memorable viewing. What makes the film work is that writer/director Bryan Bertino understands that he needs to build up some suspense and creates a genuinely spooky atmosphere before presenting the kills, and The Strangers delivers in this area quite well. Our three antagonists are truly chilling, and the pure randomness of the crime makes this film at times disturbing; when asked by Kristen why the group is terrorizing them, Dollface’s (Ward) response is simple—“Because you were home.” Although it does use home invasions to the extreme, The Strangers ties in current events to make the film a bit more real than some monster from outer space or undead hillbilly killer, and as a result the audience can relate to the terror on the screen. The ending is also disturbing and will stick with the watcher for quite some time. The Strangers is not spectacular in any of the acting or production values, but it is adequate.

A sequel called The Strangers: Part II has been announced and Tyler has been attached to the follow-up but in a much smaller role. The Strangers is a perfect example on how a smaller budget ($9 million) Hollywood production does not need all the flashy special effects or a grade-A celebrity to create a quality production. The simple storyline and the quality atmosphere created throughout the film is what makes The Strangers a much better production than what is usually cranked out of the Hollywood machine.

* * * 1/2

–Mark

 

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