Monday, September 08, 2008

The Strangers, or On Uninspiration

The opening voiceover of The Strangers informs that the movie is “inspired by real events”. There’s some disagreement here: pic was initially hyped as a remake of French true-crime psychothriller Ils, and the film’s sole plot point hints at that film’s final beat; whereas the director insists that the entire real-life aspect is contained within one small, fairly inconsequential scene.

But whatever it is, that inspiration hasn’t been generous. Rarely has a pic’s title been so unwittingly appropriate: we know nothing whatsoever about our protagonists, and learn nothing over the course of the movie. It’s hard to get involved in a life-or-death struggle when it’s between two groups of utter nonentities.

The titular boogedy-boo kiddies come off as more annoying than anything else: their nightlong torment consists largely of a preternaturally well-executed campaign of irritation. Shambling about in ersatz masks from other movies, the killers seem set on recreating okay slashers in as generic a manner as possible. Being as they’re the closest thing the film has to a driving force, this obviously means the film itself becomes that same generic flavour of forgettable crap. Presenting itself as a mature, character-focused big brother to Scream or Saw, the film is actually shamed by those movies’ depth of characterisation and plotting. The 90-min runtime seems like an eternity, because there’s literally nothing happening to latch onto - just an unconnected series of moments where it’s quiet then something flashes onscreen so you jump.

And The Strangers is competing for Kiwi eyeballs with a film that, famously, actually made an audience member shit themselves in genuine terror. The only reason anyone would choose this film over that one would be laziness: no defecation is required on the part of Strangers audiences, as the shit is already right up there onscreen.

No comments: