The Strangers: Prey At Night informs its audience straight out of the gate that its terrifying story is “based on true events.”
Considering that we then go on to see a husband, wife and their two kids stalked and attacked by a trio of masked murderers it is hard not to be a little creeped out by what unfolds and wonder what is exactly true and fabricated.
I recently had the chance to ask “The Strangers: Prey At Night’s” director Johannes Roberts that very question, while finding out various other details about the idiosyncratic horror film.
Is the film really based on true events?
Brian Bertino, who wrote the screenplay, actually had the same exact things happen to him in terms of the girl coming up to the house and knocking at the door. Then there were all these burglaries around his house. Then he mixed that in with the Charles Manson stuff. That’s really where all of the inspiration came from for him. Brian wrote the first one, too, and they are both the same sort of event.
‘Prey At Night’ feels different to recent horror movies.
We approached it in a slightly different way to how I have done things before. I really tried to avoid making this a jump scare movie. But the way we approached this was to really let you see the horror first, and the characters don’t. Rather than things leap out at you, a lot of the techniques were us showing the headlights and the Strangers and then allowing the dread to build. That was quite fun. It is quite a different take on the way to do horror. A slightly more-old school way.
What first attracted you to the film?
I loved the first movie, and I really wanted to make a John Carpenter style movie. What I really responded to was that this was my opportunity to go really retro. I wanted to make ‘Christine.’ I wanted to make ‘The Fog.’ So I brought those movies into the mix. We had a lot of fun using old techniques and tunes.
The lack of motivation for these seemingly random attack feels very timely.
Yeah, the world is currently a very terrifying place. Especially in America. But the movies I love are the John Carpenter horror films of the 80s. And the power of them was always the fact that it never explained why the murderers were happening, which made it terrifying and put the emphasis of the movie on how the characters are surviving this rather than back-plot. When there is no reasoning it is much more frightening.
“The Strangers: Prey At Night” is released on March 9.