“The Strangers: Prey At Night” is a well-crafted sequel in the
John Carpenter tradition, but what’s really interesting about it is
the way it reflects contemporary concerns and anxieties. The
“Strangers” films play on fear of The Other. What is the Other?
Anything that will come, motivated or not, and destroy a couple (in
“The Strangers”) or a family (the new film). You can see these
anxieties also in “The Purge” films (the fourth of which is coming
this summer) and the new “Death Wish” remake. The basic thrust of all
these films is that not only will the government not protect you, but
also that they will force you to take matters into your own hands.
Even though crime has supposedly been falling the last few years,
paranoia is up and people don’t feel safe. The message of these
movies is simple: kill or be killed. You can certainly argue with
this message, but you can’t argue that these films bluntly and
effectively present it. Horror films like these show us what we fear
and also how little we can do to avoid crime. “The Strangers: Prey at
Night” is a terrifying mirror of where we are right now, and as such
is more illuminating than exploitative. It’s unfortunate that horror
films are reflecting current problems, but don’t blame the messenger
for the message. The second installment of “The Strangers” is
recommended and don’t go alone!