The Strangers

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Starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, May 30, at the Cinemark Tinseltown

Who among us hasn’t crept down the stairs in the middle of the night, clutching a Louisville Slugger, convinced that the noise outside the window is someone bent on getting in? Nothing gets the old heart pumping like the fear of home invasion, but you wouldn’t know it by The Strangers, an utterly pointless portrait of domestic terror.

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as Kristen and James, whom we meet as they arrive at an isolated vacation home after a wedding. The couple is in a seriously sombre mood because Kristen has just rebuffed James’s marriage proposal, and now all the rose petals, candles, and champagne bottles he’s scattered around the place were in vain. For an interminable 20 minutes or so, these two sad sacks mope around in the early morning gloom until they finally decide to stop moping and start groping. But a sharp knock on the door puts the kibosh on the diddling and signals the arrival of a trio of noisy psychos whose main goal in life is to startle folks with banging and clanging.

The rest of the movie revolves around endless scenes of poor Kristen getting increasingly riled up by the racket. She hides from the noises in the bedroom, the yard, and the garage. She runs around looking for James, who likes to go outside and leave her alone. The masked assailants enter the house, trudge around the hallways, and torment Kristen up close, forcing her into hysterics again and again.

And that’s basically it; nothing else much happens until the bloody climax. Uninspired to the max, writer-director Bryan Bertino’s film debut offers little hope for horror fans whose genre has been shit-kicked this year by dreck like Prom Night, Shutter, and The Eye.

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