Release Date(s)2008 (March 6, 2018)
Studio(s)Universal Pictures/Rogue Pictures/Intrepid Pictures (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
A young couple returns to a secluded home in the country after an evening out only to be terrorized by three mysterious figures in masks. Not exactly your typical slasher film, The Strangers was released in 2008 to mixed critical reviews but a successful box office take. The product of first time director Bryan Bertino and starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, the film made a splash with horror fans right out of the gate and has continued to age well with audiences since its theatrical debut.
My initial thoughts after seeing The Strangers for the first time when it was released were fairly positive. I praised the film’s use of a quiet atmosphere, favoring it more and relying less on jump scares to achieve suspense. I also appreciated its simple nature in that it all takes place primarily in one location. Then there’s the three killers, whose lack of motivation I found refreshing when most horror films tend to explain away their antagonists with little to no abandon. After revisiting it, I still feel this way, but I still have some hang-ups about it that prevent me from declaring it a classic.
First and foremost, I find the performances to be subpar for the most part. In a story about a broken relationship that has to survive a night of unwarranted violence, I should probably care more about the characters than I actually do. Neither Liv Tyler nor Scott Speedman are poor choices for the roles, but they seem to be lacking outside of having to be terrified. And then there’s the ending, which to me totally cheats the film out of being something much more unsettling. Obviously I can’t talk much about it with spoiling it, but for those who’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. I also would have preferred that all of the events of the film took place entirely in the main location without resorting to flashbacks or other outside interferences. It might have strengthened the film and given it a sense of claustrophobia. Other than those minor grips, The Strangers still has plenty of merit, just not enough for me to keep revisiting it.
Scream Factory presents The Strangers for its 10th anniversary in a new Collector’s Edition package containing a brand new HD master of both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film from its 2K digital intermediate source. Both are top of the line transfers with excellent grain management, high levels of detail (particularly in shadows due to the low lighting), deep blacks, excellent color reproduction that goes more for a slanted 70s feel, and satisfactory contrast and brightness. These are also thoroughly stable transfers with high encodes and no obvious artificial enhancements of any kind. The audio is presented on two tracks, English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD, with optional subtitles in English SDH. The quality is much of the same, which is high. For the 5.1, there’s plenty of surround activity to appreciate, including ambience and speaker to speaker activity. Dialogue is well-rendered, mostly relegated to the front speakers, but LFE activity in regards to sound effects and score is really terrific. No complaints need be made here.
The extras for this release feature mostly everything from the film’s previous DVD and Blu-ray releases, but also adds a few more things. On Disc One, which contains the theatrical cut, there’s The Element of Terror 10-minute featurette in five chapters (Where Terror Lives, The Sound of Terror, The Feel of Terror, The Look of Terror, The Impact of Terror), which contains interviews with production designer John Kretschmer, writer/director Bryan Bertino, executive producer Sonny Mallhi, production sound mixer Jeffree Bloomer, actors Liv Tyler and Glenn Howerton, make-up effects artist Vincent Schicchi, and stunt coordinator Cal Johnson. Also included is the Strangers at the Door 10-minute featurette, containing interviews with Bryan Bertino and actors Liv Tyler, Laura Margolis, Kip Weeks, Scott Speedman, Glenn Howerton, and Gemma Ward; 2 deleted scenes; 3 TV spots; and the film’s teaser trailer. On Disc Two, which contains the unrated cut, all of the material is new, including Defining Moments: Writing and Directing The Strangers, an interview with Bryan Bertino; All the Right Moves: Kips Weeks on Playing Man in the Mask; Brains and Brawn: Laura Margolis on Playing Pin-Up Girl; Deep Cuts: Kevin Greutert on Editing The Strangers; and a still gallery with 49 images featuring on-set photos, behind the scenes photos, and posters. Not included is the film’s final theatrical trailer and a few extra TV spots.
For some, The Strangers hits too close to home and feels a bit mean-spirited. I’m actually not a fan of mean-spirited films myself, but I’ve always found this one to be slightly better than that. It’s definitely not perfect, but it does have plenty of scares to keep one on their toes. Scream Factory’s presentation of the film is one of their best, for sure, and with a nice extras package, it’s a great release overall.
- Tim Salmons