Once in a while, a movie comes out that I have no chance of interesting Andi in the possibility of watching with me. This is when I call up the boys and declare it's time for a mandate(or bromance, if you prefer). This afternoon, I hit up The Strangers with Mayo, Derek Gregopher, and Tommy. Laul Peeland, noted mandater(or bromancer, if you prefer) wussed out at literally the last minute. The final verdict? It's a really scary movie right up to a point.
All of the scary in this movie comes not from the fact that people in masks are looking to kill our heroes, but from the fact that they want to mess with them first. I'm not talking about elaborate death traps like you see in the Saw movies, and I'm certainly not talking about the "aha, I've got you - now let's drill a hole in you somewhere" that "torture porn" in the vein of Hostel delivers. No sir. Those movies aren't scary.
It's the little things. The silent stalking, the knocking on the door, and the fact that the only hint of motivation you ever get from the masked trio is the freaky "Because you were home" line from the trailer. Telling the audience virtually nothing, keeping us just as in the dark as the prey we're seeing as they're stalked -- that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I'm frustrated by recent horror flicks (or recently, offending remakes) giving away too much backstory and therefore motivaton for the bad guys with sharp objects, essentially rendering them bad characters in a movie rather than a horrifying force that you want the protagonists to get away from now. Still, I think I've finally determined a more important factor in making or breaking whether a horror movie is actually scary: the chase.
I love slasher flicks, but seeing a large cast systematically knocked off (like in Friday the 13th) isn't as scary as watching one lone survivor try to escape a truly messed up situation involving a transgendered, mask-of-flesh-wearing, chainsaw-wielding maniac (like in the mother of all horror movies, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre). The chase in The Strangers takes up most of the movie, and most of the movie is very scary. As a matter of fact, I'd say that the movie is entirely scary right up until the chase ends. Then the scary is gone.
So to sum up:
1) Being chased by danger? Scary.
2) Being within an inch of danger and not fully aware of it? Scary.
3) Having been caught and now tied to a chair while someone creates new scar tissue? Not so scary.
4) If you like a good fright in your movie-going, watch The Strangers.
5) Laul Peeland is totally lame.
6) Today's mandate (or bromance, if you prefer) was a success.