Movie Review: Pray for rational plotting in “The Strangers: Prey at Night”

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Death comes to the trailer park in “The Strangers: Prey at Night,” a pitiless sequel to the slasher hit “The Strangers” of a decade ago.

Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”) and Martin Henderson (“Grey’s Anatomy”) are the parents who take their kids — troubled Kinsey (Bailee Madison of TV’s “Good Witch”) and wussy Luke (Lewis Pullman) to the grandparents’ place on Gatlin Lake.

And before you know it, the slashing starts. That murdering cult — or club — of “The Strangers” have donned makeshift hoods or Halloween masks, shown up with axes, machetes and pick’em up trucks, and they commence to cutting folks up. strangers2

Casting good actors in such pictures is a bit of a spoiler. But there’s nothing else here that’s remotely surprising either, so whatever. It starts with “What was THAT?” and transitions to the stupidest question any parent ever asked a teenager in an American movie.

“You got a phone on you?”

Only in a horror movie would the answer to that be, “Nope.”

Then it’s “Run like Hell, I’m right behind you” and other variations on “You wait here whilst I go get help” and the like.

The masked murderers are always getting the drop on the constantly fleeing victims. A gun is brandished, but oddly — for a movie set in itchy-trigger-finger-land — the would-be victims only THREATEN to use it, even AFTER seeing the butchery these heartless monsters commit. “I’m givin’ you FIVE SECONDS to leave!” That’s smart.

That’s the first knock on this. It’s dumber than dumb. But the lack of panache in the murders, the lack of style and suspense in the filming and cutting, do “Prey at Night” in.

I prefer my horror without silly supernaturalism. There are things that go bump in the night that are perfectly plausible, and serial killers have always been with us (Read “The Man from the Train” about a nut-with-an-axe case from the early 1900s for proof). And I recall not minding “The Strangers.”

But when any of these movies get to the sequel stage, original thought goes out the window and it’s all about the colorful, clever ways they find to stick a knife into a B-list actor or actress. “Prey at Night” can’t even manage that.

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MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and terror throughout, and for language

Cast: Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, Martin Henderson

Credits:Directed by Johannes Roberts, script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Katai . A — release.

Running time: 1:25

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