The Strangers: Prey At Night
(Now available on Digital HD; available on Blu-ray June 12)

Wow, a lot of you slept on this bad boy, and I’m a bit disappointed. The Strangers: Prey At Night can’t hold a candle to the excellent slow-burn horror flick The Strangers, and in many ways, this film is a sequel in name-only. But it’s still a ton of fun. While the first Strangers was all about mood and dread, Prey At Night is more interested in paying homage to ‘80s slasher films.

Horror homages are a dime a dozen these days – some filmmakers think all they need to do to interest horror audiences is create a vintage movie poster and throw some synth on the soundtrack. But Prey At Night actually understands the sub-genre it’s referencing, which makes for an enjoyable modern slasher flick.

Prey At Night finds a family – parents Christina Hendricks (woefully underused) and Martin Henderson, and kids Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman – staying in a secluded trailer in a deserted trailer park. Unfortunately, the three masked Strangers are there, too, and they proceed to stalk and slaughter everyone in their way. It’s simple but effective, and director Johannes Roberts pulls out all the stops to make it work, including throwing some great-looking split diopter shots in. The real star of the film, though, is the music. Adrian Johnston’s score is so John Carpenter-inspired that he might want to pay Carpenter some royalties. Is it derivative? Absolutely! But it works. On top of that, there are some great ‘80s tunes thrown in as well.

Overall, this film was a nice surprise. The first Strangers is better, but I truly think that in a few years, Prey At Night is going to earn its place as a modern slasher fave for fans of the genre.

Special Features to Note:

The Strangers: Prey At Night Blu features an alternate ending…which isn’t much better than the actual ending. The scene plays out mostly the same, with lead Bailee Madison in the hospital with her comatose brother. In the theatrical cut, the scene ends when someone – presumably one of the surviving Strangers – knocks on the closed hospital door room. Here, the scene goes on a bit longer. After the knock, the door slowly opens, revealing…an empty hallway. There’s also a bloody smiley face painted on the door. Then, one by one, the lights in the hall go out, and then the light in the hospital room goes out as well, cutting to black. We hear Madison’s character scream. And that’s it! It makes no sense, so let’s move on.

Beyond this, there’s a music video (really? why?) and two very brief looks inside the movie, both about 2 minutes long total. If you’re looking for some sort of depth, you won’t find it, sadly. Instead, this is just the cast quickly giving you a synopsis of the film. I would’ve liked more, but hopefully in 10 years or so, Scream! Factory will put out a more substantial disc.

There’s also a feature about the film’s music, which is arguably the true star of the film. Director Johannes Roberts specifically mentions the John Carpenter influence, saying he really wanted that Carpenter-vibe from the score. He also talks about the great ‘80s tunes that turn up on the soundtrack. This is a brief feature, but I am glad Roberts acknowledged the very obvious Carpenter influence. To not do so would’ve been laughable.

Special Features Include:

  • Alternate Ending
  • “Prep for Night” Music Video – Director’s Cut: The Man in the Mask, Dollface, and Pin-up Girl get ready to terrorize an unsuspecting family in a music video directed by horror auteur Mickey Keating (Darling, Carnage Park)
  • A Look Inside The Strangers: Prey at Night: Stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson and director Johannes Roberts talk about the making of the film
  • Family Fights Back: Stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman and director Johannes Roberts review the film’s characters and their fight to survive
  • The Music of The Strangers: Prey at Night: Director Johannes Roberts and star Bailee Madison discuss the John Carpenter-inspired score and the ‘80s soundtrack that keeps The Strangers killing

 

The Hurricane Heist
(Now available on Digital HD; available on Blu-ray June 5)

Look, when your film is called The Hurricane Heist, you only need to deliver two things: hurricanes, and heists. Hurricane Heist has both, so I guess it’s a success. Rob Cohen helms this goofy-as-fuck action flick that’s like a combination of Twister and the first Fast and the Furious film (which Cohen directed). Toby Kebbell, using perhaps the worst southern accent I have ever heard in a movie, plays a meteorologist who gets caught up in the middle of a gang’s plan to boost $600 million from a U.S. treasury facility during a deadly hurricane.

This results in scene after scene of CGI clouds descending upon CGI locations, causing CGI destruction. To Hurricane Heist’s credit, it know how stupid this all is, and never tries to be anything else. It leans into its dumbness, so much so that there’s not one, but two different scenes where the storm clouds in the sky suddenly transform into the shape of an GIANT, GRINNING SKULL. Folks, as I watched that CGI skull form in the sky, I couldn’t help but mutter “Oh, hell yeah” under my breath. The Hurricane Heist!

Special Features to Note:

The Hurricane Heist Blu-ray includes a making-of feature. Here, director Rob Cohen says he wanted to “get into” the storm, whatever that means! Cohen also says he prefers storyboards to pre-viz, and says that he thinks pre-viz ultimately looks like a cartoon. Of course, this is rather ironic, because everything in the film looks like a cartoon.

The most interesting feature on the Blu-ray is a nearly half-hour interview with Cohen. This isn’t about Hurricane Heist, but rather Cohen’s long career – he’s been in the movie making business for 47 years. Cohen is not a household name, but he’s had quite a career, helming films like DragonHeart and the first Fast and the Furious movie. Even if you don’t like Cohen’s movies, he’s a fascinating guy, and watching him talk about his career is a treat.

Beyond that, we get a VFX reel that shows how the (awful) special effects were created, and some minor deleted scenes.

Special Features Include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • “The Eye of the Storm” Featurette
  • “Hollywood Heist: A Conversation with Rob Cohen” Featurette
  • VFX Reel
  • Audio Commentary with Director Rob Cohen

***

Also on Blu-ray this week: Annihilation. See our full review of the Blu-ray here.

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