The Overdue Twist
by Jansen Musico
The Strangers (2012)
D: Lawrence Fajardo
S: Enchong Dee, Julia Montes, Cherry Pie Picache, Janice de Belen, Enrique Gil, JM De Guzman
There is something unsettling about Lawrence Fajardo’s The Strangers that has nothing to do with the horror it tries to create, but has everything to do with the way it is drawn out. Following the template of road trips gone awry, the film introduces a squabbling family stranded in the woods of rural Luzon on the birthday of biological twins Pat (Julia Montes) and Max (Enrique Gil). There is danger lurking in the dark, they are repeatedly told. What it is becomes the film’s central mystery.
Fajardo creates a lush yet suffocating labyrinth filled with suspicious townsfolk, an even more suspicious straggler (Enchong Dee), crude booby traps, and quadrupedal monsters. He leaves just enough room for the family to move around and fills the remaining void with an air of uncertainty. For a while, this sticks, as Fajardo introduces clue after misleading clue and scare after cheap scare, elicited from shock cuts and an overbearing soundtrack. But the suspense doesn’t hold well as the film’s gimmicks begin to give way to its too thinly stretched twist, betrayed by too many foreshadowing devices.
When the twist is finally revealed, there are no surprises. There is just the question of how it will end. Gory sequences are thrown in, followed by a few moments of flair from Cherry Pie Picache and Janice de Belen. Once the finale is reached, we are left with nothing but botched expectations and a vat full of surplus filler.