It sounds stupid enough, and ultimately is, but the director, Bryan Bertino, stages The Strangers' early scenes with spooky panache.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
This is no splatter movie: spare, suspenseful and brilliantly invested in silence, Bryan Bertinoa(TM)s debut feature unfolds in a slow crescendo of intimidation.
Jeannette Catsoulis - New York Times
Messy, intermittently effective ordeal horror.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
The Strangers has a couple of scares, but it's not anywhere near as frightening as advertised. The creepy folks of the title are more fumbling than fiendish.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
I like watching snakes eat mice just as much as the next fella, maybe even more, but The Strangers turns the gobble-'em-up into an ordeal. It's a fraud from start to finish.
Stephen Hunter - Washington Post
[Director] Bertino has the pretensions of an artist and the indelicacy of a hack. He tries to get under our skin with a pile driver.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
An old-school spooker spun from the blood splatter on a wall, a nearby record player scratching an oldie, a CB radio in the garage, a creaky swing set in the backyard.
Ed Gonzalez - Village Voice
Every silence, pause and sudden noise startles -- and the results, frankly, are more frightening than the graphic torture scenes in movies like Hostel and Saw.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
At least it's short.
Amy Biancolli - Houston Chronicle
The movie deserves more stars for its bottom-line craft, but all the craft in the world can't redeem its story.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
Anchored by convincing performances from Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, both of whom elevate their roles above the standard horror-movie caricature, this is an enormously unsettling movie.
Jessica Reaves - Chicago Tribune
There's nothing remotely new here, but the movie has the taut, queasy feel of an early 70s drive-in shocker: old-fashioned suspense without any guarantee of old-fashioned mercy.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
No one is getting at anything in The Strangers, except the cheapest, ugliest kind of sadistic titillation.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
It's an efficiently made, appropriately terrifying film, downright minimalist in approach and all the more horrifying for it. It's so basic it's believable.
Tom Long - Detroit News
If you're a fan of the genre, The Strangers provides all the shocks and scares you could possibly want.
Randy Cordova - Arizona Republic
It's all efficiently nerve-jangling, with Tyler and Speedman credibly registering every hue of panic.
Dennis Harvey - Variety
Kind of like what The Shining might be if you took out the ESP. And the ghosts. And the chilling atmosphere. So call it The Sucking.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
Fans of the 'pitiless/merciless killers' school of horror should get a jolt out of The Strangers, a harrowing real-time tale of an assault on a remote country home.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
With no plot to speak of, no character development whatsoever, no theme and precious little intrigue, what we have here is simply a pileup of effects. And not especially special effects.
Susan Walker - Toronto Star
Jennie Punter - Globe and Mail
It's intense but not necessarily fun and may disappoint less sophisticated horror fans. However, for die-hard supporters of unsettling peeks into the dark side of human nature, this is a welcome excursion.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A frightfully effective chiller.
Michael Rechtshaffen - Hollywood Reporter
Just get comfortable, sit back and smile at the slaughter - unlike Funny Games, at least this is bloodshed you can enjoy.
Ali Gray - TheShiznit.co.uk
Brent Simon - Shared Darkness
Hank Sartin - Time Out
Writer-director Bertino just wants to scare our pants off, and succeeds admirably.
Kelly Vance - East Bay Express
Dean Essner - Digital Spy
There?s no better feet-on-the-seat execution for the home-invasion genre than this. "The Strangers" twists the knife with scenes lasting a beat longer than normal to maximize dread and sound design excavating a hole in your cortex and nestling there.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
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.
Steve Newton - Georgia Straight
Grinding and suffocating
Fernando F. Croce - CinePassion
Bryan Bertino's psycho-thriller gets the job done for nearly two-thirds of its length. But when it shows its hand, it folds.
Tom Meek - Boston Phoenix
An extremely effective claustrophobic horror picture that starts slow but ultimately provides us with plenty of suspense all the way through to its very dark ending.
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
[A] cheapo, shaky-cam knockoff of a horror film from foreign shores.
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Dean Essner - Irish Times
An effectively grim, exceedingly well-made horror thriller.
Brent Simon - Screen International
You have to admit, it's a unique approach to a horror film, though not ultimately a fulfilling one.
David Medsker - Bullz-Eye.com
When the film is this effective, it's hard to complain.
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
A retread of just about every home-invasion movie of the past 50 years mixed with elements of torture porn and chick-flick romance.
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
Nerve-jangling horror flick that wrings maximum scares out of its simple premise, thanks to strong direction and superb performances from Speedman and Tyler.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
Jennie Kermode - Eye for Film
This suspense film by first-time writer-director Bryan Bertino initially squeezes some surprisingly effective scares out of familiar elements. Sadly, the scenario quickly becomes attenuated and unbelievable.
Nigel Floyd - Time Out
Inevitably, the cat and mouse game goes on too long and the tension dies a slow death. A bit like Liv's career.
Dean Essner - Sun Online
Delayed by over a year, but don't let that fool you: this may be lightweight, but it knows what goes bump in the night.
Rob Daniel - Sky Movies
An effective, scary emotional work-out, but perhaps you can have too much paranoid despair.
Kim Newman - Empire Magazine
Lean, mean and razor-edged, this nasty little home-invasion thriller drags you by your white knuckles on a horror chill-ride while flicking its middle finger at Funny Games. Prepare to be scared something rotten.
Matt Mueller - Total Film
As a simple exercise in tension and dread, this is a gripping hour at the multiplex - it's just a pity that it goes on for a further 20 minutes.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
A lean, effective little exercise in scares. It offers nothing new but is perfect for breaking the ice on a first date.
Daniel Etherington - Film4
The usual stupidness ensues. "Stay here darling with the axe-wielding psychos while I go and get help," says Speedman. Ugh.
James Christopher - Times [UK]
For most of its length, this is a grippingly unpleasant picture of barbaric, gratuitous evil, stealthier and scarier than Funny Games, to which it bears a slight resemblance.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
A good-looking, sophisticated, if somewhat pointless addition to the slasher-horror genre.
Charlotte O'Sullivan - This is London
Clearly influenced by slashers such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Last House On The Left, there's a decent sense of claustrophobia in the first hour.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
There's no denying that The Strangers fulfils its limited objective of showing nasty things happening to defenceless people. For some audiences that may be enough - but not for me or, I hope, for you.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
Bertino does not try to understand his strangers. His primary interest is what happens - the details of crime - as if the film were a dramatised tabloid.
Victor Olliver - Teletext
so well made, so moody and tense, that its emptiness can almost be overlooked - but if you want something a little more than a po-faced thrill ride, best look elsewhere
Anton Bitel - Little White Lies
This film does not have the shock value of many other horror films, which was a pleasant surprise for my taste. It is scary in the sense that this could this really happen.
Jolene Mendez - Entertainment Spectrum
The cumulative effect of unexpected knocks at the door, creaking floors, shadows, noises and strange happenings is a heart-pounding experience
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
The film's most potent claim to success is its lengthy and cleverly edited stretches of spookiness, which it tends to extend to almost breaking point, keeping us in heightened suspense.
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
After building a jangling sense of terror, Bertino doesn't take it anywhere.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
This is straight-up nightmare fuel, unredeemed by compelling characters or interesting motives.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
The Strangers bears more than a passing resemblance to Them, the French horror film about a couple in a secluded house who are stalked by mysterious, almost supernatural tormenters.
Lucius Gore - ESplatter
Offers no more enlightenment or catharsis than a drugged insect could expect in the moment before it is skewered by a lepidopterist's pin.
John Beifuss - Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
How bad is a stalker/killer flick when it's just as lame whether the victims live or die? All suspense and no payoff doesn't look clever, just lazy.
Kevin A. Ranson - MovieCrypt.com
... The work of a born filmmaker who shows a remarkable command of tone and pace. It is a new classic in its genre ...
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
The Strangers gets your hopes up with some smart filmmaking but then pretty much dashes them by the final predictable fade out.
Beth Accomando - KPBS.org
This movie is far from great, but it did scare the heck out of me quite a few times. I have to give it props for that.
Bob Grimm - Reno News and Review
It wrings ever drop of terror it can out of making us identify with doomed people, and suffering as they suffer. That might be nihilistic, but it's also empathetic.
Tim Brayton - Antagony & Ecstasy
It's creepy and at times frightening, but it fails in the most important aspect of the genre - it's not at all entertaining.
Jeffrey Lyles - Gazette (MD)
Though most of the movie was efficient, it felt empty.
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
A brutal little thriller with no intentions other than to scare us. And in many instances, it succeeds...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
A fine throwback, and one filled with moments of real suspense. In spite of its rushed, awkward ending, I'd take this any day over the Saw movies, and all that came in their wake.
Christopher Smith - Bangor Daily News (Maine)
If you've seen the annoying trailer for Bryan Bertino's singularly pointless debut feature, you've seen all the film has to offer -- minus 88 minutes of tedious sadism.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
[A] taut, minimalist white knuckler.
Rick Kisonak - Film Threat
I don't remember hearing young women scream like this in a theater since I saw "Double Jeopardy" some years back in a packed auditorium.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Don't let the attractive cast, the slick look or the 'inspired by true events' nonsense mislead you. The Strangers is a despicable and mean-spirited practical joke.
Dean Essner - Ebert & Roeper
I've got to credit Bertino with the sense enough to not resort to shocking gore to make up for lack of suspense. The final act, however, is as messy as a plate of spaghetti.
Eric Melin - Scene-Stealers.com
Unrestrained unexplained violence just for the thrill of it makes for a lousy movie.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
when a horror film manages to get its creepy hooks into your skin, it at least deserves some faint praise for psychological effectiveness.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
A sadistic, unmotivated home-invasion flick.
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
The movie is derivative as hell, but Bertino shows a good deal of craft -- if not as a writer, then as a director.
Rob Gonsalves - eFilmCritic.com
There's less suspense around what these lunatics with sharp implements are doing in this home, than what Tyler and Speedman are doing in this movie. As for whoever is left standing at the end, they may have taken the final pages of the script with them.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Abusive and arty as it contemplates abuse and art, The Strangers delivers what you guess it will.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
The good thing about the three masked intruders is that they stay masked. This saves their careers. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Scott Speedman. He reacts to every scary indignation as if he was being checked for fleas.
Adam Fendelman - HollywoodChicago.com
no edge, no originality, no subtlety, and all the intelligence of a doggie squeak toy
Andrea Chase - Killer Movie Reviews
Strangers is 80 minutes of screen stillness; a suspense picture powered by directorial incompetence and behavioral idiocy...a pile of tasteless genre garbage.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
What it does is deliver more than an hour of sustained, almost unrelenting terror.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
THE STRANGERS basically is FUNNY GAMES all over again. Well-crafted suspense in which the director refuses to give you the catharsis you seek in order to "make a point."
Luke Y. Thompson - LYTRules.com
Left me feeling exploited as this vile pretentious thriller never committed itself to being more than a rip-off scare flick.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Let's give writer-director Bryan Bertino credit. He knows how to frame a shot to make characters seem vulnerable. Now for his next trick, he just needs to turn his talents toward something that isn't repulsive.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Unfolding with an almost startling lack of self-awareness, young filmmaker Bryan Bertino's debut is such a careful, straight-faced knockoff of '70s exploitation films it plays like a parody.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
...useless even as a bad example.
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
For a film too goofy to be scary and too clumsy to be fun, even the least discerning splatter fan will find it hard to depend on the violence of The Strangers.
Graham Killeen - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Writer-director Bryan Bertino, making his debut, seems to understand the mechanics of the genre without having the slightest sense as to what do about the content.
Daniel M. Kimmel - Worcester Telegram & Gazette
The Strangers is a deadly dull experience in boredom, strangled by two cinematic stumbling blocks -- one external and one of its own unfortunate making.
Bill Gibron - PopMatters
Opening against Sex and the City, it's counterprogramming that runs counter to any sane notion of art or entertainment.
Michael Sragow - Baltimore Sun
Director Bryan Bertino brings an intimacy to his film that differentiates it from most of the slasher tripe out there, despite a creakily shopworn premise.
Jason Heck - Kansas City Star
It's so gruesomely relentless that the effect is like watching a slo-mo snuff film.
Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor
A mediocre scare show that just happened to have one of the best trailers of recent times. At two minutes, The Strangers is terrifying; at eighty-five, it's lackluster.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
There's nothing more to it than meets the eye, but Bertino understands the mechanics of suspense and knows how to use them.
Maitland McDonagh - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Good thing The Strangers isn't actually scary in the least, because then I might really have to off on a rant about how our entertainment overlords are conspiring with our government to keep us timid and afraid.
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Bertino, who comes off as more of a veteran behind the camera than a rookie, gives the film its own identity by slowly building up the action instead of jumping into everything in a hurry.
Adam Tobias - Watertown Daily Times
While expoliting our fear of random house invasion, there's no excuse for careless continuity and illogical behavior. Sloppy cinematic details diminish the scare factor.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
While The Strangers certainly doesn't forge any new ground, there's always something to be said for a horror flick that forges old ground colorfully.
Scott Weinberg - FEARnet
The Strangers is nothing fancy, though for a first-timer, Bertino paints a nice claustrophobic picture and knows what to do with the dark.
Jim Slotek - Jam! Movies
Though we always know where things are going, the film still frightens from moment to moment.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
After a while, the suspense starts seeping out of The Strangers, because you realize that's all there's going to be to the movie.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
The Strangers suffers from lack of originality. I've seen most of this film in other movies, and as a horror fan, I found little that was new or innovative.
Kevin Carr - Film School Rejects
Though I much preferred the efficient, murderous simplicity of Them, the French original, for the uninitiated The Strangers is a nice little fright fest and perfect date fare to boot.
Richard Knight - Windy City Times
A retread of just about every home-invasion movie of the past 50 years mixed with elements of torture porn and chick-flick romance...has nothing new to offer in the genre.
Pete Hammond - Hollywood.com
Imagine Funny Games stripped of all its social commentary, dark humor and information about its killers, and you're starting to get the idea. It's so spare, it's almost abstract.
M.E. Russell - Oregonian
The look and feel - cinematography, score, original music and sound design, sets and locations - are rich, textured, layered and sumptuous. But The Strangers, like an adversary wearing a mask, remains impenetrable.
Staci Layne Wilson - Horror.com
Bertino relies too heavily on occasionally nonsensical terror tricks that every horror buff has seen a million times since John Carpenter's Halloween set the standard for domestic fright-night mayhem.
Jeff Shannon - Seattle Times
Writer and first-time director Bryan Bertino wastes his taut, tense premise -- two lovers, three villains, one house -- by depending on wearingly familiar tricks.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
The Strangers may not be perfect but it's easy to believe that Bertino's next few will be. It's that great a debut.
Brian Tallerico - The Deadbolt
For inferior horror films to work, they must be populated with characters who act irrationally at best and downright idiotically at worst.
Brandon Fibbs - Colorado Springs Gazette
The Strangers is still entertaining but, just so you know, Them came up with a sharper, more disturbing way to finish things off.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
It's an outstanding example of the horror/suspense genre, made with a refreshing approach. But it contains elements so creaky and pathetic you want to scream.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
A knock at the door has never been this terrifying.
Peter Paras - E! Online
A crisply made exercise in empty tension, like the stretched edges of an over-inflated balloon animal.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
Spooky horror film has both tension and gore.
James Rocchi - Common Sense Media
As an exercise in controlled mayhem, horror movies don't get much scarier.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
..riddled with continuity errors...stupid victim behavior cliches...and inconsistencies...begins with its heroine's 911 call but has no viable way of incorporating that call into its own unfolding logic.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Well-produced and with masks certain to become regulars at future Halloween parties, The Strangers delivers suspense and decent shocks to keep it ahead of the average Hollywood horror.
Mike Barnard - Future Movies UK
At a certain point, The Strangers devolves into the kind of generic chase picture that slasher flicks frequently become.
Ethan Alter - Film Journal International
A must-see for horror fans, but the fewer questions you ask, the more effective it will be.
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Scott Von Doviak - Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
Proves well executed simplicity sometimes can be more effective than bombast, blood and things that go boom.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
There's little that distinguishes this movie's basic plot from scores of other fright films over the decades, but The Stranger is more effective than most because of [director] Bertino's deft manipulation of the storyteller's tools.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
An immensely creepy thriller, one that plays fair with the audience, treats its characters with unusual intelligence for the genre, and is all the more effective because the minimalist plot is kept spare and straightforward.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
The Strangers is full of cheap scares and unoriginality but does contain an ending that is worthy of a stomach ache beyond belief.
Kevin McCarthy - WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)
The momentum Bertino builds up over the course of the movie is deflated by an ending that doesn't match the rest of the film.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
The Strangers gave me a look of disbelief, not the suspension of same, with its jaw dropping flaws.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
The Strangers has been saddled with an increasingly uneven sensibility that ultimately dulls the movie's overall impact.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
Ultimately, it's an invitation best refused. 'The Strangers' offers a few memorable scares, but it is less chilling in its simplicity than numbing in its banality.
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
A film to unnerve us enough to either buy some extra deadbolts or kill the next bastard who walks across our lawn.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
There are enough flaws on display in "The Strangers" to keep it from ever generating the necessary suspense to prevent viewers from noticing those flaws in the first place.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
The climax is deadening. Somewhere, Michael Haneke is saying, 'I told you so.'
Josh Larsen - LarsenOnFilm
Is Hollywood so disconnected from its past and bankrupt of ideas that it doesn't even know this movie is a screaming cliche?
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Bertino's cat-and-mouse chase is genuinely terrifying. If the director learns how to make what happens once the mouse is caught just as interesting, he'll have a long, prosperous future ahead of him.
David Fear - Time Out New York
It gets less scary and less tense as it goes along.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Really scary. A 10 on the "creepy" scale.
Brian Chen - Filmcritic.com
Speedman remains comatose, though Tyler flickers fitfully to life. The mournful look on her face suggests she's remembering the days when she was given more psychologically complex scripts, such as Armageddon.
Lawrence Toppman - Charlotte Observer
Yes, OK, bad things happen to good people. Consider the message received... about seven movies ago.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
...a grab-bag of nifty widescreen compositions and sound design stingers, with nothing on its mind besides its own virtuosity.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
Any good thriller should make you worry about walking through the door and into your dark apartment, but The Strangers may prevent you from ever going home again.
Mark Peikert - New York Press
If you put yourself through the wringer only once this year, you could do worse than The Strangers.
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
The Strangers isn't scary, just tedious, and the final image shows that Bertino didn't even have the balls to follow the story to its logical ending.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
...looks like a student film made at a friend's house where the only direction given to the cast was to scream.
Michael A. Smith - Nolan's Pop Culture Review
In "Funny Games," two blond boys terrorize a couple for similarly inexplicable but clearly sociopathic reasons. So, gee, one wonders where Bertino conceived his idea.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
The real problem is that there's absolutely nothing original here and it's obvious they tried to take what works and recycle it.
Brad Miska - Bloody Disgusting
The Strangers is one of those inane fright fests that relies upon the victimizers being omniscient and omnipresent while the victims are complete morons.
Alonso Duralde - MSNBC
Seriously underwritten, depending too much on Liv Tyler's abiity to pout, to shriek, to cry and to cry again.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
A grisly, morally disreputable cat-and-mouse exercise that has no point beyond viscerally implicating viewers in the same sadistic game played by the villains.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
As with last year's lean, mean B movie Vacancy, Bryan Bertino's The Strangers is a white-knuckle thriller in which a couple going through relationship difficulties is terrorized by psychos.
Nick Schager - Slant Magazine
So terrifying I watched the whole movie through a slit between two fingers.
Victoria Alexander - FilmsInReview.com