You’ll be double checking that your doors are triple dead-bolted after The Strangers, the finest pedigree in home invasion/stalker chillers, a film so lethally unnerving that even a few moments in the trailer alone can get people squirming. On a dusky autumn’s eve, Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler arrive at their remote cottage to get some downtime. Giving each other the cold shoulder following a spurned marriage proposal, the mood is anything but romantic, but that’s nothing compared to the nightmarish arrival of three masked intruders who terrorize them the whole night through. First time Writer Director Brian Bertino has a brutal, bleak edge to his script and knows how to stage the scenes of fright in gut churning, uncomfortable fashion. Nothing about these Strangers is ever divulged, motive nor backstory, they’re just relentless phantoms of the night who chose this poor couple simply because “they were home.” The cinematography is gorgeously auburn and amber burnished, full of rich deep shadows that could be hiding anything, and quite often are. 1970’s inspired design creeps into the detailed production design as well as the soundtrack, and all the elements contribute to an immersive atmosphere. The ending has always been a point of contention amongst people since this came out (Ebert wrote an unfair, misguidedly scathing report), and it’s understandably tough for audiences to sit through such a depressing, hopeless conclusion. But considering this is Hollywood, where every film and it’s mother has a happy ending or something numbingly predictable, it’s a nice swap to get bludgeoned out of nowhere by a complete, no fucks given conclusion that leaves no way out for anyone and an upsetting, anxious feeling in the air. I love that the director had the stones to finish off the film like that, and I love even more so that the studio let him keep it, other outfits should take note of where and when to dole out creative control at the expense of making a memorable, lasting experience. A no frills nightmare that sends you straight to anxiety-ville. Keep those lights on when you turn in tonight and don’t answer the door if someone knocks. Don’t even move or breathe.