The Strangers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. If forced to evaluate the transfer in one word, “dark” would be the way to go.
This was a consistently dense image, though not in a bad way. Clearly the filmmakers wanted to give the flick a moody feel, and they succeeded. Blacks looked solid, and shadows were also effective.
Granted, it could become tough to discern some of the action in low-light shots, but that appeared to be intentional. Overall, those elements worked fine within the flick’s design parameters, even as murky as the end result could seem.
Colors remained heavily restricted throughout the film. Reds, oranges and ambers dominated the image, so you’d be hard-pressed to find many other hues.
The image replicated these tones well. As with the blacks and shadows, they fit within the intended scope of the presentation.
Sharpness looked good. A few wide shots seemed a little soft, but those instances failed to create distractions.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement remained minimal. I saw a couple small specks but no substantial print flaws. All of this made the transfer worth a “B”.
While not a stellar sonic affair, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Strangers also seemed to merit a “B+”. The soundfield favored the expected creepy ambience and scary effects.
Various elements were placed appropriately in the spectrum, and they meshed together well. The spectrum used the surrounds in a positive way, especially when the villains terrorized the leads. For the most part, the soundscape remained restrained, but the elements combined in a pretty engrossing and compelling manner.
Audio quality worked fine. Speech was consistently natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music showed strong range and definition, as the score was vivid and bold.
Effects also packed a good punch. Those elements displayed nice accuracy and power, especially during the smattering of loud bits. This wasn’t a stunning track, but it filled out the film well.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? The lossless audio brought the usual boost in terms of warmth and fidelity.
Along the same lines, visuals improved, as the Blu-ray seemed better defined, with stronger colors and blacks. This was a pretty satisfying step up in quality.
Don’t expect too many extras here. We do find both the theatrical “R”-rated (1:25:11) and the Unrated (1:27:31) editions of the film.
The Unrated Strangers adds just one scene with that extra two minutes, 20 seconds. This comes very late in the film and would qualify as a spoiler if I revealed it, so I’ll stay mum.
I will say that the segment in question doesn’t change the film in a notable way, but I think it allows the ending to make a little bit more sense. Still, it’s a small enough addition that it doesn’t improve the flick in a substantial manner.
Two Deleted Scenes last a total of four minutes, 51 seconds. These include “James Reflects at the Bar” (2:38) and “Bathroom Discussion” (2:13).
Both offer a little more character exposition. Neither proves particularly satisfying in that regard, though, so don’t expect them to flesh out the roles very well.
A featurette called The Elements of Terror goes for nine minutes, 13 seconds. It provides comments from production designer John Kretschmer, director Bryan Bertino, executive producer Sonny Mallhi, production sound mixer Jeffrey Bloomer, key makeup and prosthetics Vincent Schicchi, stunt coordinator Cal Johnson, and actors Liv Tyler and Glenn Howerton.
“Elements” covers a few areas like set design, audio, makeup, stunts and performances. It doesn’t provide a thorough take on these topics, but it looks at them in a satisfactory manner.
With its theoretically believable tale of terror, The Strangers could’ve thrown some real scares our way. Unfortunately, the film feels slow and padded, so it might’ve worked better as an episode of a horror series rather than as a feature film. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio but it skimps on extras. Chalk up The Strangers as a dull disappointment.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of THE STRANGERS