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The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School

The Echo

‘The Strangers: Chapter 1:’ a strange installment

New prequel disappoints
Fair use from Lionsgate Entertainment

Lionsgate’s new movie “The Strangers: Chapter 1” was released on May 17 as the first installment in a new trilogy in the franchise. Directed by Renny Harlin, it serves as a prequel to the original ‘cat and mouse’ home invasion movie, “The Strangers.”

The movie follows a young couple, Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Froy Gutierrez), as their car breaks down on a road trip. Stranded in a small Oregon town, they’re forced to spend the night in a remote wooded cabin. Terror encompasses the couple as masked strangers appear outside, determined to come in.

The main characters were nothing special. They were a typical lovey-dovey couple with very few problems and next to no other personality traits. As a result, there was no internal conflict between the characters, making them rather dull. Their lack of complexity made it difficult for me to become fully invested in them. There was a noticeable absence of growth and character development within their relationship. It felt like the characters were missing depth, which left me wanting more from them.

The acting itself really impressed me. Both Petsch and Gutierrez displayed a wide range of emotions that really drew me into the story. Their portrayal of fear and pain as they were tormented felt incredibly genuine and really added to the overall intensity of the scenes. Even though the writing of the characters wasn’t great, Petsch and Gutierrez still managed to make the best of what they were given and give pretty effective performances.

The cinematography was exquisite, showing many far away shots that peeked through windows and trees to effectively replicate the sense of stalking and watching. The use of these distant shots created an amazing tension and unease, drawing the audience into the characters’ paranoia.

The film’s setting was ideal. It is situated in a remote wilderness, which contributes to a feeling of hopelessness and dread due to being trapped. The woods also create an eerie atmosphere, with darkness and cover making it extremely difficult to see the danger. You know it’s there, but not where, so you’re always on edge. The cabin itself was very old, rickety and falling apart, taking inspiration from 80s ‘cabin in the woods’ movies. I thought that detail added in a nice creepy touch.

Instead of using a traditional soundtrack, the movie opted for a record player. I loved this choice because it added a haunting atmosphere when the record skipped during violent scenes and when it seemed to start playing on its own, signaling someone’s presence in the house, creating some very creepy moments.

The masks of the intruders were messier and less finished than in the original movie, but I liked that aspect because it shows the intruders’ progression. It shows they’re less polished and together because they have less experience than what they have in the original movie. I loved that detail in this prequel.

The plot was one thing I really wasn’t a fan of. As its own movie, the plot worked pretty well. It was a decently scary ‘cat and mouse’ home invasion, similar to the original movie. My problem was that it was too similar. It held nearly all of the same plot points as the original to the point where it just felt like a remake of the original and not a prequel. It added almost nothing new, so I knew exactly what would happen, which made for a boring story. Because the filmmakers were so focused on copying the original, there was barely any set up for the original like a prequel is supposed to have, which was extremely disappointing. It advertised itself as a prequel, but didn’t deliver in that aspect.

Overall, I found “The Strangers: Chapter 1” decent, but disappointing. It had a great atmosphere, a creepy setting, wonderful cinematography and moving acting, but ultimately failed as a prequel, mostly copying the original. It’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of the franchise, but it’s not stellar.

“The Strangers: Chapter 1:” ★★★☆☆

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About the Contributor
Rackam Walberg
Rackam Walberg, Echo Staffer
 Hi, my name is Rackam Walberg. I am a sophomore and this is my first year in Echo. Other than writing and photography, I love to draw and read. I also enjoy hiking, listening to music, and watching horror movies. I’m really excited to be in Echo this year!

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