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Watch This Review

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Movie Review

Boarding school. Ugh.

Kinsey doesn't want to go to boarding school. Honestly, she'd rather die.

'Course, she hated regular school, too. Lame teachers. Asinine classmates. All that stupid school spirit. Don't even get her started on the actual classes. Worthless. Completely worthless. If they were any good at all, she might've, like, gone more. Maybe even studied. Maybe. Anyone with half a brain could see how useless they were.

But her parents (ugh) don't have half a brain, even if they pooled their resources. No, they got so bent out of shape when she'd cut class and fail her tests and commit petty misdemeanors with her friends. Lame. They yelled and screamed and begged her to do better, to get herself on track. They cried big alligator tears sometimes, but they're not fooling Kinsey. No way. She knows they don't care about her. They just want to get rid of her.

Thus, boarding school. Mom and Dad call it a "last resort." What they really mean is, "At last, we're getting rid of Kinsey!"

So they all pile in the family minivan—Mom, Dad, Kinsey and super-dippy suck-up older brother, Luke—to take Kinsey to jail. 'Scuse me, boarding school. Ugh.

It's a ways away, so they stop off and visit their aunt and uncle for a bit at a trailer park they manage. They arrive late, though, on account of stupid brother's stupid baseball game. Mom finds a note in the office from Aunt Kate, along with a key to trailer 47. See you in the morning, the note says, ending with a chipper smiley face. Ugh.

Kinsey doesn't know it just yet, of course, but they'll not be seeing Aunt Kate again. Not alive, anyhow. Besides Kinsey and her family, the trailer park is apparently home to just three remaining living guests. They like to wear masks and carry weapons and, well, kill things. And boy, are they happy to have the company.

Homicidal peril. Ugh. So lame.

But if Kinsey really would rather die than go to boarding school, she just might get her wish.

Positive Elements

The Strangers: Prey at Night isn't exactly fertile ground for well-intentioned self-reflection. But before the bloody evening's done, Kinsey does indeed come to realize that she's been kind of a jerk to the folks who really love(d) her. And indeed, some people show their love for one another in the most, er, self-sacrificial ways. We hear several frenzied exhortations of affection and parental pride, and everyone seems to do their best to save various family members when at all possible.

Before the carnage begins, parents Mike and Cindy plead with both of their children to put away their smartphones and spend the evening truly together as a family (a nice suggestion that backfires spectacularly).

For all their faults, masked would-be killers do seem to enjoy '80s music. So there's that.

Spiritual Content

None, though several people do get to check out just what the afterlife looks like.

Sexual Content

Kinsey wears a top that exposes a shoulder. Her parents kiss and flirt and cuddle and reminisce about a sexy camping trip they once took to the Rockies. Mike, the father, is happy that he and wife Cindy will have the house all to themselves once Kinsey's at boarding school and Luke goes off to college, because they'll be able to "do it on the couch like we used to." There's a joke about how Kinsey's aunt and uncle are probably engaging in a lot of "filthy porno sex."

Violent Content

Surprise: This movie gets pretty stabby.

At least two people get thwacked in the back with knives. One of the victims is stabbed in a pool, the blood billowing out from his body in a dark (due to the low light) cloud. He coughs up blood as well as he floats, and the scene goes on seemingly forever. Another person gets a knife in the back in a bathroom. We later see bloody handprints on the wall and the resultant corpse slumped over the sink. Another person meets a grisly end at the point of an icepick, possibly to the throat or chest. Blood dribbles off the victim's chin as that poor individual expires. Still another is stabbed repeatedly after being temporarily knocked out, apparently dying from the gaping (though unseen) wounds.

But lest you think Prey at Night is in some sort of murderous rut, have no fear: It's not all just stab-stab-stab with the point of a knife. The edge of a knife is also used, most notably to cut someone's throat. (That person collapses and dies, gasping wetly.) Someone's slashed repeatedly with the same knife, leaving her hands bloodied and her leg in serious need of medical attention. (She spends much of the rest of the movie limping helplessly.)

A person is shot twice with a shotgun, including once in the head. (The camera views the coup de grâce from some distance away.) Someone is skewered by a huge beam—not enough to kill the guy, but certainly enough to pin him in place. Someone else suffers a grievous wound via shard of glass to the gut. (The person pulls the glass from the body with bloody hands.) Another person spends more time than is healthy in a burning, exploding truck. The experience does not do very pretty things to the person's face, as we see.

Dead bodies are seen in darkened trailer homes, obscuring the mutilated corpses somewhat. (Indeed, as bloody and as lethal as this movie is, Prey at Night isn't nearly as in-your-face grotesque as many slasher flicks can be.) Trucks smash into trailer homes and other vehicles. Something is thrown against the windshield of a moving minivan, sending the car careening and eventually crashing (and temporarily knocking out both occupants). The Man in the Mask—a bad guy, in case you couldn't tell—loves literally dragging around an ax, and he often swings it when he feels the urge. Much threatening is done.

Crude or Profane Language

Nearly 20 f-words and about half a dozen s-words. We also hear "b--ch," "h---" "d--k" and another crude anatomical term I actually had to look up (though I'll spare you the details, other than to say it was pretty gross). Kinsey makes obscene hand gestures twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Kinsey smokes. She and her mother share a cigarette outside a diner, and she smokes while talking with her brother, Luke, by a deceptively tranquil lake. When Kinsey offers him the cigarette to take a puff or two, he instead flicks it away.

Luke and Kinsey find a bottle of tequila in an apparently empty trailer. They debate how many shots they should do before they head back to Mom and Dad.

Other Negative Elements

None. Unless you count the movie as a whole.

Conclusion

Give The Strangers: Prey at Night credit for its simplicity. This horror flick is exactly what you think it is: would-be killers chasing around would-be victims with sharp things. Its makers have very little interest in anything like subplots or character development. It's the sort of movie where the would-be victims find a gun and mysteriously throw it aside, where a damsel-in-distress limps down the middle of a road as a killer truck trundles up behind her—apparently not realizing that she might stand a better chance of survival limping through the forest growing on either side of said road.

It's as straightforward as cotton candy: You know it's empty and unhealthy and it may even make you sick afterwards … but at least you know exactly what you're going to get.

If taken on its own terms, is it good? Heavens, no.

Is it scary? Well, the 12-year-old I overheard talking to her mother sure thought so.

Is it worth watching? Just guess.

The whole exercise makes me feel a little like Kinsey heading off to boarding school, actually: The Strangers: Prey at Night. Ugh.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Bailee Madison as Kinsey; Christina Hendricks as Cindy; Martin Henderson as Mike; Emma Bellomy as Dollface; Lewis Pullman as Luke; Lea Enslin as Pin-Up Girl; Damian Maffei as Man in the Mask

Director

Johannes Roberts ( )

Distributor

Rogue

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

March 9, 2018

On Video

June 12, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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