The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024) Movie Review - Shockingly Dull Horror Yawnfest

Horror, Slasher, Thriller | 91 Min
Cover from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)
  • Director: Renny Harlin
  • Actors: Madelaine Petsch, Froy Gutierrez, Gabriel Basso, Ema Horvath, Ella Bruccoleri
  • Writers: Bryan Bertino, Alan R. Cohen, Alan Freedland
  • Producers: Courtney Solomon, Mark Canton, Christopher Milburn, Gary Raskin, Alastair Birlingham, Charlie Dombek
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Violence, Drug Use, Violence To Animals, Language
  • Horror, Slasher, Thriller | 91 Min

After their car breaks down in an eerie small town a young couple is forced to spend the night in a remote cabin. Panic ensues as they are terrorized by three masked strangers who strike with no mercy and seemingly no motive.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to our review of the relatively new movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 from 2024. As you can probably guess by the “Chapter 1” tagline. This movie is the beginning of a brand new trilogy that focuses on the subject of… Well, I guess, random killings by country bumpkins? I don’t know but it pains me to think of there being two sequels coming up to this shitshow of a movie. Let’s take a look.

A Surprising Horror Fan Hit

I was always slightly surprised by the fan reaction to the 2008 horror movie The Strangers. The premise of the movie was quite simple. A couple, played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, head out to a vacation home for a getaway. Only for their weekend, and lives, to be ruined by the arrival of a group of sadistic masked killers hell bent on doing some stabbing.

Screenshot from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)

I, personally, found it to be a tired and uninspired torture porn flick that wasn’t particularly interesting and made light entertainment out of the Manson family murders of Sharon Tate and heir to the Folger’s coffee empire Abigail Folger back in the 70’s. It did nothing new and wasn’t even particularly scary.

Still, it apparently clicked with the viewing audience. And despite many critics panning it for being, frankly, a bit crap. Fans lapped it up and the line “because you were home” uttered by Dollface became a little bit iconic. A few sequels followed that repeated the formula and, fast forward to today, we are back with more in the form of The Strangers: Chapter 1.

Why Did They Bother?

That was my immediate thought upon hearing about this movie. This is a story without legs. Random killers killing random people. There is really nothing to expand on. But, apparently, director Renny Harlin and writer Bryan Bertino (a name you may recognise as the writer and director of the original Strangers movie) have three movies worth of crap to show us from the Strangers’ world. Yay!

Screenshot from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)

This is going to be one continuous story brought to you over three chapters. The first of which recently released, the second of which is coming in October and the third sometime next year. I hope you are excited, because I sure wasn’t and watching chapter 1 didn’t help. This is an absolute yawnfest of a horror movie.

The story follows late twenties couple Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Froy Gutierrez) as they head out on a road trip. Stopping at a sketchy diner in a backwater town. The pair return to their car to find it won’t start. Offered help by the local mechanic, they accept and decide to stay in a local Air B’n’B for the night. Little do they realise that they are in for a less than hospitable welcome from the local crazies.

More of the Same

That is all The Strangers: Chapter 1 is. It is a redux of the Strangers formula only extended over a series of movies. That might be fine for some but, the big problem is, everything that the first movie had going for it is completely gone here. First of all, we spend way too long getting into the story. Maya and Ryan bum around the town for way too long and there is way too much canoodling between the two. It takes a long time to get into the action.

Screenshot from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)

Secondly, when the action starts. The intense and claustrophobic, almost helpless, feeling of the original movie simply isn’t there. Instead, we have an extended and protracted game of cat and mouse that goes on forever. Tension is completely absent and it is very difficult to stay invested. 

The couple try to escape their tormenters. The tormenters are a bit dumb and afford the pair numerous opportunities to fight back. It feels like it goes on forever. Only for the movie to finish on a bit of a cliff-hanger to set up chapter 2. But will anyone really care? I suppose if you really enjoy the formula you might. But serious horror fans are going to feel bored and have little interest in finding out what happens next.

Utterly Predictable

What makes things a lot worse is just how predictable The Strangers: Chapter 1 is. There are no surprises at all. Every single shot loudly projects each and every scare. Every scene follows an obvious and apparent path. There isn’t a single moment that you won’t see coming. Even the final moments are easily guessed. Right up until the last second.

Screenshot from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)

It is entirely disappointing. It wouldn’t be so bad if the execution was good but it simply isn’t. This is formulaic slasher crap with no bells and no whistles. Hollywood horror garbage at its most shoddy and derivative.

As I said before, this formula has no legs. The first movie got everything out of it that you could possibly get without pure recycling. The Strangers: Chapter 1 is trying to squeeze the remaining juice out of a rotten 16 year old lemon and doesn’t manage a single drop.

Acting is Meh

“Meh”.. That’s betraying my Millennial roots, isn’t it? I just can’t think of a better way to put it. Madelaine Petsch, as Maya, does an okay job. She looks absolutely exhausted in a few scenes, though. Not as in “she is acting”. More as in they are overworking her and she can’t find the energy to emote. It’s almost as if you can see her suddenly remembering that she should be looking scared and crying in a few scenes. I actually felt really bad for her.

Froy Gutierrez is pretty bad as Ryan. He is wooden as hell in a few scenes and his performance had both my fiancée and me confused as to his motivations. He has a sinister delivery to some of his lines. Especially when comforting his partner and comes across as very plastic. I can’t really blame him, however, as the script offers his character no depth beyond him being a messy eater and easily angered.

Screenshot from Horror Movie The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024)

Direction is pretty awful. Sequences that are supposed to be tense go on far too long. Robbing the moments of any gravity and leaving you bored. Scares are beyond predictable. Renny Harlin sets his shots up like he is picking them from a “Make Your Own Scary Movie” video game.

They are completely obvious. From the person appearing through the glass while someone is showering. To the face that’s in the mirror one minute and gone the next. The techniques here show a director who is both out of touch and devoid of new ideas. On the plus side, cinematography is decent throughout and sound production isn’t a negative.

Should You Watch The Strangers: Chapter 1?

You should only watch The Strangers: Chapter 1 if you absolutely need more of the same from the Strangers universe. This movie has so little to offer. It is boring, repetitive, derivative, played out, and simply not very scary. I am not at all looking forward to the subsequent chapters. Young newcomers to horror may find something to like. Non-horror fans might enjoy just how simple the movie is. But any horror vets should just skip this one altogether. It is a waste of your time.

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