Buy The Strangers on DVD from 26th December and you’re in for a big surprise. The film became one of the year’s sleeper hits at the worldwide box office, thanks to huge word-of-mouth and some masterfully tense direction by Bryan Burtino, who cranks up the tension to almost unbearable levels. It’s probably best not to watch it alone, as it may well have you jumping out of your seat, and it joins a line of classic films containing moments that have had audiences hiding behind their hands in terror.
Psycho (1960): The granddaddy of all modern horror sequences is Hitchcock’s classic shower sequence, which had audiences reeling and is still held up as a masterpiece of editing, music and shock.
Rosemary’s Baby (1966): Most viewers probably thought it was all a dream. Rosemary thought it was all a dream. She’s not going to actually pick that baby up and sing to it – is she? The climactic sequence of Polanski’s horror masterwork still has the power to leave you reeling today.
The Wicker Man (1973): It’s not surprising this has become a cult classic. The ending – in which Edward Woodward’s principled copper is burned to death inside a huge straw figure – remains one of the most powerfully scary moments in film.
The Exorcist (1973): Even by today’s standards, having a teenage girl swearing, abusing herself and making her head turn 360 degrees would be controversial and shocking. But this was way back in 1973. Possibly the most talked about, and petrifying, sequence in the history of the horror film.
Carrie (1976): Just when audiences thought it was all over – and if their senses hadn’t been assaulted enough in De Palma’s masterpiece – the final moment arrived: a lingering camera hovers over Carrie’s grave as we assume all is once again well. Only it’s not. It’s really not.
The Shining (1979): The moment Nicholson’s Jack started smashing down the bathroom door with an axe is now firmly part of film history. ‘Here’s Johnny!’
Friday the 13th (1980): Reprising the Carrie-style finale. Jason is dead and the surviving girl floats along to safety. Or so she thinks.
The Silence of The Lambs (1991): Of all the incredible moments in this genre-defining classic, Lecter’s escape from the huge cage in the last act possibly remains the most jaw-dropping.
Hidden (2005): Proof that it doesn’t have to be a horror to be scary. When audiences saw Daniel Auteuil’s character finally confront his nemesis they had no alternative but to scream. Very loudly. And it took them a very long time to regain their composure.
The Strangers (2008): A refreshing and shocking sequence: we know Liv Tyler thinks she is all alone in an isolated house. We know someone else may be stalking her. We know it’s going to be nasty. But just how nasty – and how clever the introduction of the baddie is – makes The Strangers stand head-and-shoulders above other recent horrors.
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