When it comes to scary movies, not everyone finds the same subjects scary. Some people are terrified of films with supernatural antagonists like ghosts and demons, while others believe the horrors of the mind seen in psychological thrillers are far scarier. But one genre of horror films that seems to frighten just about everybody is home invasion films, and one of the best examples is 2008's The Strangers. So with the film's sequel now hitting theaters, it's no wonder that The Strangers: Prey At Night is just as scary as its predecessor.
The original film, The Strangers, told the story of a couple staying at a remote house in the country who become terrorized one night by three mask-wearing strangers. The intruders break into the house and continually attempt to assault the occupants, and when asked why they're doing so, they say "because you're home." This is obviously a terrifying situation that should scare anyone; especially because it could actually happen. People committing random acts of violence toward strangers is far from unheard of, and the idea of being trapped in a desolate and unfamiliar area only adds to the tension of the situation. So given that the original film nailed the formula of home invasion horror so well, how could the sequel possibly improve upon it?
By upping the ante, basically. Instead of a couple, The Strangers: Prey at Night features an entire family of four who become victims of the Strangers — the same three mask-wearing antagonists from the first film. And instead of a remote country house, the family are tormented while staying in a mobile home located in a deserted trailer park. Just imagine showing up to a vacation home trailer and discovering that you're the only people in the entire trailer park. That's all kinds of creepy, since logically, other people should be around — so there must be a reason why they're not.
"In the first movie they were in a house and obviously they couldn’t get in their car because it was there, and there were no landlines," star Bailee Madison told Collider. "But we’re dealing with the same situations except we are dropped in a maze of a world where everywhere they turn could be a place that they could be, and there is no way out. Which is almost more terrifying, because you’re in an outdoor space, and you’re not in the comfort of your home, you don’t know things, and you’re not aware where the twists and turns can come."
Another aspect of The Strangers: Prey at Night that should scare people is the claim the trailer makes that the movie is "based on true events." The idea that something like this actually happened to people just further legitimizes what was already a believable premise, and will likely have fans installing new home security systems after watching the film. However, before you become too terrified, you should know that the movie is playing things pretty fast and loose with this claim.
The original Strangers film also claimed to be based on a true story, but its main inspiration was the notorious Manson Family murders, according to a 2008 Shock Till You Drop interview with director Bryan Bertino. These killings, where Charles Manson and members of his cult invaded the homes of strangers and murdered them in 1969, were certainly horrific and terrifying, but they weren't identical to those seen in The Strangers.; they were just a loose inspiration.
Another influence on the original The Strangers was an incident from Bertino's childhood where a stranger knocked on his door and asked for someone who didn't live there (the same tactic used by the Strangers in the film to figure out if someone is home), according to the film's original production notes. Bertino later found out the person was part of a group of burglars who had been breaking into homes in the area. Again, that's spooky, but not too connected to the plot of the film. The Strangers: Prey at Night doesn't appear to have any new inspiration since it largely follows the same plot as the original, so you can at least take its "based on a true story" claim with a grain of salt.
Despite that, The Strangers: Prey at Night still looks every bit as chilling as its predecessor, if not more so, so if you're someone who's scared of people with bad intentions breaking into your home (and you probably are), then you're going to find this movie plenty scary.