Seven in Heaven
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Seven in Heaven

Ten years ago today, I was sitting in a movie theater in Times Square with every single muscle in my body tensed and contracting, like threads on a wool sweater in the dryer. This was before movie-theater seats got nice and cushy and wide and you could put your feet up, so when I tell you that my feet were up on my seat and my knees were nearly up to my chin, know that this was only possible because fear had entered my body and was pretzeling it as it saw fit. This was all happening the very first The Resistance Banker time I saw The Strangers, and in the decade since its release, no horror film has scared me more nor been as effective at showing human terror at its most unexplainable.

The plot to The Strangers is incredibly simple. An unhappy couple on the precipice of breaking up — we meet them on the way home from a friend’s wedding reception; he’s Secret Santa proposed to her and she’s declined — staying at a semi-familiar summer home for the night find themselves terrorized by a trio of masked strangers who seem to have no agenda at all except murder and mayhem. That’s it. Can James (Scott Speedman) and Kristen (Liv Tyler) make it out alive? It’s that simple, and that is terrifying.

There are no big moves in The Strangers. No horrible revelations and no reasons either. But what director Bryan Bertino does with details — small moments, indelible art direction, playing with expectations — produces a whole that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It starts right at the beginning, with James and Kristen’s tense, almost traumatized silence towards each other. It’s already the worst night of their lives before the horror even begins. Subtly, we’ve been made to care about these people, which isn’t a matter of getting to like them, exactly, but seeing them as recognizable people whose experiences I Think We’re Alone Now aren’t unlike our own. Then … Tamara.

Duration: 94 min


IMDb: 5.4

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Seven in Heaven
Seven in Heaven