Top 25 Film Thrills & Chills: And the #1 Spot Goes to...'The Strangers'

With a vigorous series of knocks at the door of a remote cabin, "The Strangers" sets the stage for the most terrifying and eerie film experience, ever. Toying with every dark fear that resides within the human mind, the villainous trio that terrorizes a young couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) trying to relax after a friend’s wedding; shows no mercy.

The terror is not exerted by cartoonish, weapon-wielding lunatics and that is what makes it all the more terrifying. These are the chilling and calculating efforts of a confidently relaxed, group of psychopaths. They are relentlessly cruel without taking gory measures.

It is what they do not say or do that compels the fear. The mystery of what they want or are willing to do, ratchets the anxiety to extreme levels; playing on viewer’s psychological fears and nightmarish imaginations.

These characters are too scary, too real, and too possible, to avoid a chill running up the spine. Theirs is a quiet, unsettling and vicious siege on the mind of their victims.

"The Strangers" savagely pulls the audience into the conundrum faced by the victims, effectively emitting their fear to the point, where thinking clearly as an audience member becomes impossible. The characters in this movie do stupid things. We can forgive it because it is easy to understand that the terror they are experiencing makes their decision-making difficult, they are understandably clouded in fear.

[Image by Rogue]
The movie’s slower pace builds the tension and allows the story to develop in a banal authenticity. Be warned that the doomed and dread-filled agony felt watching this movie is not easily shaken off. 

Writer/Director Bryan Bertino utilizes jarring, unexpected sounds to up the ante. A simple knock at the door, the creek of a floorboard, or a shallow breath, are all transformed into something foreboding and sinister.

The soundtrack is sparse until Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” blares sporadically. A song that typically emits a warm and folksy air of endearment to the atmosphere, morphs into something menacing. Anything that carries a sense of security soon changes in "The Strangers;" much like a lot of other small moments throughout the movie.

Keeping a sharp eye will help you pick up quite a few nuances. Among them a stranger peering in from a distance far enough to miss and with close enough proximity to bite.

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman both give strong performances. They have to sell the fear and they succeed. They charge the film with their palatable panic and despite being familiar faces; they do not distract or remove the realistically voyeuristic feeling of the movie. There’s no escaping this anxiety-riddled thriller.

"The Strangers" is a horrifying ride that works on the nerves and provokes a second look at what’s peeking behind the trees and that is why "The Strangers" is Eclectic Pop's top pick for 'Thrills and Chills'. Rating: 8.5/10 

[Featured Image by Rogue]