Los Angeles Times - 05/30/2008
"First-time writer-director Bryan Bertino's taut, spare thriller is plenty scary....Anchored by convincing performances from Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler....This is an enormously unsettling movie."
New York Times - 05/30/2008
"[S]pare, suspenseful and brilliantly invested in silence, Bryant Bertino's debut feature unfolds in a slow crescendo of intimidation..."
Empire - 10/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "This is undeniably effective suspense-horror, and Bertino stages quiet chills and short, sharp shocks with a technical expertise..."
Sight and Sound - 11/01/2008
"[T]he tension remains consistently high....It accrues a real power to frighten through small touches..."
Total Film - 01/01/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]his lean, very mean house-invasion thriller from first-time director Bryan Bertino doesn't put a foot wrong....THE STRANGERS is chillingly effective..."
For his film debut, director Brian Bertino has crafted a fantastically creepy horror flick based on the very simple premise of strangers who come knocking late at night. Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) have arrived at a secluded vacation home in the woods after attending a friend's wedding. It's four in the morning, and they're both tearful and emotionally exhausted after a disagreement about their relationship. As they awkwardly try to navigate the long night together, they are distracted by the sound of a heavy knock at the door. They open it to find a dazed young woman hidden in the shadows. Assuming she is lost, James sends her away, but Kristen is disturbed by the late-night visit. When James leaves to go on a drive and pick up some cigarettes, Kristen is left alone, and we watch her move through the huge house in a painfully eerie silence, all the while knowing that she is being watched. By the time James returns, Kristen is in hysterics, and together they must face the terrifying fact that they are indeed in grave danger.
Both Tyler and Speedman give excellent, understated performances that lend the film a truly frightening edge of realism. The story's simplicity is a refreshing change from over-the-top torture films like SAW, and the violence in the film is minimal, and much of it off camera. THE STRANGERS also lacks any big-budget special effects. You won't find any CGI creatures or armies of zombies. The only monsters depicted here are the very real human kind, which is what leaves you thoroughly spooked and shaken, and ready to push a chair against your own front door.