Bryan Burtino’s “The Strangers”-A Simple Approach to Filmmaking
It is truly amazing what some filmmakers can do with just a handful of actors, one or two locations, and a small budget. Bryan Burtino blew me away with his writing/directing debut “The Strangers.” It tells the story of a young couple that is mercilessly terrorized by three strangers.
James and Kristen just got back from a wedding where James proposed to her. Assuming she was going to say yes, James set everything up at a remote vacation house to have a romantic evening with his girlfriend-turned-fiance. She doesn’t say yes, though. They still end up spending the night at the vacation house and what was supposed to be a romantic evening, becomes a terrifying evening that may even threaten their lives. It all starts with a knock on the door at 3 or so in the morning…
Except for a few brief flashbacks to the wedding and a short scene at the end, this film involves one location and 5 actors… and 3 of the actors don’t speak for most of the film. It is amazing, though, how much tension Burtino was able to extract from this simple film. Part of what is so terrifying about this film is that it takes the place you are supposed to feel safest (home), and brutally invades it.
I don’t tend to have any lasting fears after seeing a horror film. Once the film is over, I realize “Oh, that was just a film” and I move on. This is the only film, however, that I can remember being scared beyond the credits. I was scared to death that I was going to hear a knock on the door in the middle of the night.
By the end, the strangers explain why they decided to terrorize the couple and it is simple but may be the greatest, most terrifying reason for the brutality in a horror film that I have seen in a long time. I am not going to tell you what they say, because I don’t want to ruin anything; but I will say, rent this movie. It will keep you on the edge of your seat and terrify you.
NEWS: There is a sequel in the works! It may go straight to DVD or could hit theaters… it’s only in pre-production right now so they have time to figure that out. Either way…I’ll be watching.