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The Strangers Chapter 1
                      review by Bobby Blakey

In 2008 director Bryan Bertino unleashed the unexpected hit horror flick The Strangers to the big screen. The film scared audiences with its realistic tones and creepy visuals, they had been talking about a sequel for some time which we finally got with the 2018 film, The Strangers: Prey At Night. That seemed to be the end of the franchise until it was suddenly announced that A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Cliffhanger and Exorcist: The Beginning director Renny Harlin was returning to his horror roots to deliver a whole new trilogy with The Strangers Chapter 1. Does this first entry into his new arc deliver what fans are hoping for or will it not be a stranger worth letting into your house?

The Strangers Chapter 1 follows a young woman starting a new life with her fiancé. Suddenly, during a road trip stop in a remote vacation rental in the woods, they become the prey of a mysterious gang of masked strangers who attack without warning or reason. What begins as a fight to stay alive becomes one woman’s journey of courage and cunning in this horror series bridging three compelling films.

 

Despite the second film not adding all that much to the story I still enjoyed the first two films. To be honest, like most I thought this franchise was dead, but here we are. I went into this one knowing that it was the beginning of a new trilogy but wasn’t sure if it really had anything new to say. Interesting enough, Harlin has crafted a simplistic approach to the story that while does have some slow pacing initially does effectively bring the tension back to this story.

 

It is still a simple story that doesn’t offer much depth this time around and just sets up the terror that this couple will be going through with these crazed strangers. I was a bit surprised that it kept it so simple and right to the terrorizing here as it was promoted to see how the strangers became the

strangers and there is none of that here. At least not yet. This could be handled within the next two chapters, but if not, it will leave that promised aspect in an unresolved story.

 

Forget about that aspect right now and just take in the story they are going with, which is another home invasion story, and it works way better than I thought it would. The film does have a slow pace initially and takes a little bit to get to the meat of it all, but once it does it never lets up until the end. It isn’t breaking down the walls of the horror genre, but instead fully embracing the genre and what the original film was. It builds the tension as it leads to the torture and kills.

 

For those hoping for tons of kills here you will be4 disappointed since the film is focused more on the torment of this couple. While it isn’t racking up the kill chart it does make great use with the time and still lets the blood flow. Have no fear there are still some kills here that deliver those stay grounded in a more real world. It all culminates in something that seems final before offering a fun twist that while most may figure it out still leads directly into the next chapter. It quite literally ends with a “To Be “Continued” caption so be prepared for the film being more of the set-up to where it takes us that I hope is the actual history of the strangers we were promised.

 

Decide for yourself and check out The Strangers: Chapter 1 in theaters on May 17th from Lionsgate.

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