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The Strangers

Blu Ray

  • Score: 64

    from 2 reviewers

    Review Date:

  • The Strangers offers a chilling yet hollow terror experience, recommended for genre fans.

    The Strangers Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date

  • Video: 67

  • The Strangers on Blu-ray boasts a visually rich 1080p transfer, capturing its dim ambiance and 70's vibe with deep, atmospheric blacks and a soft hue palette, despite some detail softness.

  • Audio: 72

  • The Strangers' Blu-ray delivers a haunting DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, masterfully layering bass-heavy, atmospheric sounds, precise violence effects, and eerie ambiances, ensuring a vigorously immersive and terrifying experience.

  • Extra: 52

  • The Strangers' Blu-ray features delve into genre innovation, behind-the-scenes insights, and challenges through cast/crew interviews, deleted scenes, and actor perspectives, with minimal exclusive content.

  • Movie: 62

  • The Strangers, a bleak and disturbing film, delivers relentless terror with no clear motive, marrying minimalism with sharp horror that leaves audiences both shocked and unsettled.

    Video: 67

    The Blu-ray presentation of "The Strangers" boasts a 1080p transfer that meticulously captures the mood and style of the film with its 2.35:1-framed visuals. The image quality is imbued with a variety of soft hues - golden, amber, and red - that dominate the poorly lit scenes, complementing the unsettling atmosphere of the narrative. Flashback sequences, such as the wedding scene, inject a dose of vibrant colors into the mix, albeit with flesh tones that tend towards the paler side, suggesting accuracy within the film's visual narrative. The detail level is consistent, with a noticeable softness permeating throughout, yet this appears intentional, contributing to the film's intimate and suspenseful essence. While blacks are generally deep and true to tone, varying by scene between crushed and slightly gray, this aspect further enforces the film’s dim and foreboding ambiance.

    Shout! Factory enhances this aesthetic with their release, upgrading from the previous BD-25 disc's VC-1 encode to a dual BD-50 disc format for each version of the movie. This decision not only eliminates compression issues but also faithfully represents the cinematographer's original vision more accurately. The MPEG-4 AVC encode ensures a pristine 2K scan from the original negatives, exhibiting rich, atmospheric black levels that echo a 1970s horror film vibe, reminiscent of classics like John Carpenter's works. Although the dedication to preserving a grainy texture reflective of its 35mm origins sometimes sacrifices sharpness, it reinforces the film's eerie atmosphere without detrimentally affecting overall viewing pleasure.

    Overall, "The Strangers" on Blu-ray serves its viewers a solid video transfer that is both technically proficient and stylistically faithful to its source material. The upgrade in encoding and disc format significantly enhances the viewing experience, achieving a balance between maintaining the film’s gritty aesthetic and delivering a clean, detailed presentation. With its moody black levels and consistent grain, it transforms what could have been a murky visual into a captivatingly atmospheric experience that fans of the genre will appreciate.

    Audio: 72

    The Strangers" presents an audibly terrifying journey on Blu-ray, courtesy of a finely-tuned DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The sound design meticulously crafts an enveloping sense of dread, employing a bass-heavy mix that brilliantly complements the film's suspenseful atmosphere. This precision-in-sound extends to the smart utilization of ambient noises—crickets chirping, the eerie silence before a sudden knock, and even the unsettling blare of a smoke alarm—all serve to immerse viewers fully within the film's tense landscape. Furthermore, the soundtrack's dedication to realism is nowhere more evident than in its dynamic reproductions of violence; whether it's the jarring clash of a car crash or the disturbing clarity of shattered glass, each sound effect is rendered with alarming clarity and depth, proving that the audio experience is as integral to the horror as the visual elements.

    Adding another layer to this auditory experience are the film's subtle yet effective musical cues, which seem to lurk within the shadows of the soundtrack itself, enhancing the film’s ability to unsettle. The implementation of surround sound techniques ensures that each discrete noise—from the subtlest whisper to the most forceful thud—fills the room, creating an expansive field of sound that adds depth to the cinematic experience. Additionally, the Blu-ray offers an alternative for fans of classic horror with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track that echoes old school terror vibes without compromising the modern auditory thrills. Dialogue throughout remains crisp against the soundscape of dread, further solidifying this audio presentation as a model of how sound can fundamentally elevate tension and fear in horror cinema.

    In conclusion, whether viewed through the lens of technical mastery or sheer effect on the viewer's nerves, "The Strangers" exemplifies how a meticulously constructed audio track can be as vital as visual craftsmanship in creating an unforgettable horror experience. Both the 5.1 and optional 2.0 mixes offer their own contributions to this success, making for a versatile and spine-tingling auditory journey through terror.

    Extra: 52

    The Blu-ray extras for "The Strangers" blend a variety of behind-the-scenes insights, from conceptual discussions to technical breakdowns, presenting a comprehensive view that will intrigue both fans and cinephiles. The offerings include detailed featurettes on the film's creation, actor interviews that delve into the psyche behind the haunting masks, and a meticulous exploration of the film’s editing process. Among these, "Defining Moments: Writing and Directing The Strangers" and "Deep Cuts: Kevin Greutert on Editing The Strangers" stand out for providing an in-depth look at the film's narrative and technical craftsmanship. Though the package is somewhat sparse, particularly in exclusive content, it compensates with quality insights into the movie's production, casting decisions, and the unique challenges faced by the actors and crew. The inclusion of deleted scenes and a still gallery further enriches the viewing experience, making it a valuable addition for enthusiasts seeking to explore beyond the surface scares of the film.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • The Elements of Terror: A deep dive into the film's approach to terror, featuring interviews with cast and crew.
    • Strangers at the Door Featurette: Focuses on the technical side of production, excluding Liv Tyler.
    • Defining Moments: Writing and Directing The Strangers: Director Bryan Bertino discusses casting, directing, and scripting.
    • All the Right Movies: Kip Weeks on Playing the Man in the Mask: Insights from the actor behind the mask.
    • Brains and Brawn: Laura Margolis on Playing Pin-Up Girl: Actress Laura Margolis talks about her character's creation.
    • Deep Cuts: Kevin Greutert on Editing The Strangers: Explores changes made during the editing process.
    • Deleted Scenes: A collection of scenes not included in the final cut.
    • TV Spots & Theatrical Trailer: Promotional materials for the film.
    • Still Gallery: A compilation of still images from the production.

    Movie: 62

    The Strangers" Blu-ray presentation plunges viewers into a chilling 87 minutes of despair and psychological terror unsurpassed by many in the genre. As a film that excels in delivering both psychological and physical horror without resorting to clichéd reasons or explanations, it stands out for its brutally honest portrayal of fear. The slow build-up of tension, combined with sporadic, genuine shocks, crafts an atmosphere thick with anticipation and dread. The minimalistic approach enhances the terror, drawing comparisons to the eerie vibes of 1970s horror classics while critiquing the essence of fear itself. However, it's this very lack of background detail on both the protagonists, Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman), and their tormentors that imbues the narrative with an unnerving sense of hopelessness and despair, making "The Strangers" a masterclass in atmospheric horror, albeit one that leaves viewers longing for more substance behind the scares.

    From the onset, the film meticulously lays the groundwork for a harrowing ordeal that sees its lead characters, grappling with personal turmoil, become ensnared in a nightmarish situation beyond comprehension. Their emotional and psychological journey is amplified by masterful sound designs, such as the haunting broken record scene, which, coupled with the sparse yet effective use of visuals—shadowy figures looming at the edge of the frame—culminates in a crescendo of terror that's both palpable and profoundly disturbing. The antagonists' deliberate anonymity and vague motivations contribute to a relentless feeling of unease, making their actions all the more terrifying because they lack a discernible rationale.

    However, despite its strengths in creating a mood of sheer terror and utilizing minimalism to its advantage, "The Strangers" faces criticism for its underdeveloped characters and thin plotline. The film's refusal to delve deeper into the psyche of its protagonists or provide a backstory for its villains can leave audiences feeling somewhat detached and unsatisfied. While the atmospheric tension and suspense are undeniably effective at invoking fear, the lack of character depth and motive might prevent the film from achieving a more profound psychological impact. Thus, while "The Strangers" excels as an exercise in sustained terror, its reliance on minimalism and atmosphere over character development and narrative complexity is a double-edged sword that both defines its success and limits its lasting impact.

    Total: 64

    The Strangers" stands as a noteworthy entry in the Terror film genre, marrying a palpable sense of dread with a minimalist approach that eschews gore in favor of psychological fear. The film's mastery lies in its ability to immerse both its characters and viewers in a seamless blend of sound, visuals, and pacing that ratchets up tension gradually but inexorably. Its effectiveness stems not from explicit horror but from the hauntingly vague threat of evil that pervades the narrative. The Blu-ray presentation by Universal complements this atmosphere with a video transfer that honors the movie's intended aesthetics and a dynamic audio track that amplifies the cinematic fear, although it falls short in providing a substantial array of supplementary materials.

    However, "The Strangers" is not without its criticisms. Despite its compelling start and successful emulation of a 1970s horror vibe, the film struggles to maintain momentum throughout its duration. This results in a somewhat hollow experience as the connection with the characters wanes, leaving viewers craving more depth from both the protagonists and their eerie antagonists. This shortfall notwithstanding, the Blu-ray release signifies a notable improvement over its predecessors, enhancing every aspect of the viewing experience and making it a commendable addition for collectors and new fans alike.

    In conclusion, "The Strangers" Blu-ray offers a superior viewing experience that will appeal to fans of terror movies, particularly those who appreciate a film that skillfully induces fear through atmosphere rather than gore. While it might leave some audiences wanting more in terms of character engagement and supplemental content, its technical presentation is undeniably effective. For enthusiasts of the genre looking to dive into a chilling night of suspense, this Blu-ray edition is indeed recommended, cementing its place as a valuable piece for any horror aficionado's collection.