It’s a shame that “Prey at Night,” the long awaited sequel to “The Strangers” hit like a thud in 2018, because it sure is a top notch follow up to the atmospheric original we saw a decade ago. Where as the original was more an homage to the Manson family murders, “Prey at Night” is a slick hodgepodge of slasher and thriller nods and winks that paint our trio of Sack Face, Pin Up Girl, and Baby Doll as more aggressive individuals that spend less time tenderizing their victims before they go in for the ultimate kill.
Which is not to say that “Prey at Night” doesn’t pack in its fair share of slowly mounting thrills and chills; director Johannes Roberts has a great time continuing what Bryan Bertino started. Martin Henderson and Christina Hendricks play Mike and Cindy, two parents at odds with one another after they decide to send their daughter off to boarding school. After an incident in school, they decide to take her together and decide to stay for the night at a trailer park. Little do they know they’re in mortal danger as a young woman comes knocking at their door asking for “Tamara.”
Johannes Roberts is fantastic with visuals, providing a simplistic but very effective setting for what becomes a fight for survival. Like the original, our characters are never let off the hook and always seem to be at the mercy of the trio of serial killers. “Prey at Night” succeeds as a sequel, expanding the continuing path of terror the strangers create through unsuspecting neighborhoods. Here they’re just as senseless and random as they were when we first saw them, and they’re all the scarier for that fact. Roberts goes for a quicker pacing this time around, using the strangers as cunning killers that don’t hesitate to finish their prey when little option is left.
The performances from the cast are stellar, including Bailee Madison (who I always considered an underrated final girl in the horror genre), Lewis Pullman, and Hendricks. The new cast behind the masks also does remarkable jobs, posing as horrifying maniacs lurking in the dark without an inch of remorse. Along the way there are also some fine nods to classic horror thrown in, from “The Prowler,” and “Friday the 13th,” to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Christine.” If we never do get to see Pin Up Girl, Dollface, or Sack Head ever again, I’m glad “Prey at Night” sends off the series with a creepy and fun slasher that’s admittedly less sophisticated than its predecessor but is a fun midnight feature, nonetheless.