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The Strangers: Chapter 1

Content Caution



In Theaters


Home Release Date




Emily Tsiao

Movie Review

You know what you shouldn’t do if you get lost on a three-day road trip? Be rude to the locals in the first town you’ve come across in miles.

First, Ryan and Maya garner strange looks after they pronounce that they’re celebrating their fifth dating anniversary. “Why haven’t you put a ring on it?” a waitress asks Ryan.

Then Ryan accuses the mechanic of tampering with their car while they were eating to scam them out of money. And, of course, he refuses to share a drink with some locals who invite him to join them. Not to mention he orders a “meat-free” burger for vegetarian Maya—something the ultra-small town of Venus just doesn’t cater to.

Unfortunately, with the car out of commission, the couple is stuck there overnight in an Airbnb.

And even more unfortunately, they’ve drawn enough attention to themselves to attract the interest of some masked and malevolent strangers…

Positive Elements

Maya talks some sense into Ryan when he mindlessly threatens the mechanic for a perceived wrong. The couple is loyal to each other and tries to help one another escape the strangers chasing them.

Spiritual Elements

Two young boys offer Maya and Ryan some pamphlets, stating, “The Lord will set you free,” and asking if they are sinners. To which Ryan replies, “Aren’t we all?”

Sexual Content

Maya and Ryan make out several times—including once in the car, which nearly leads to a car wreck. They start to get intimate, removing clothing (Ryan takes off his jacket and Maya undoes her belt) before they’re interrupted. And later, we see them snuggling on the couch, presumably post-coital since Maya is wearing Ryan’s button-up shirt and he’s in a T-shirt and boxers.

We see Maya from the shoulders up as she showers. She wears a top that shows some cleavage.

Ryan and Maya aren’t married, something the townsfolk of Venus take offense to, but Maya tells Ryan that she wants to tie the knot.

Violent Content

Someone swings an axe at a man, killing him just offscreen. Later, we see the guy’s rotting corpse. Two people are tied to chairs and stabbed in the guts. Their attacker kicks over their chairs, letting them bleed out on the floor. A man is shot in the face with a shotgun, dying instantly, and we see his mangled features.

People are attacked with axes, knives and guns. Someone breaks through a window to grab Maya around the neck, briefly choking her. Two people are knocked unconscious. An axe man breaks down two doors, terrifying the couple.

Slides at the beginning of the film state that 1.4 million violent crimes occur in the United States each year, which means one occurs every 26.3 seconds—or, seven such crimes since viewers began watching.

But this story, we’re told, is one of the most brutal. And certainly, the actions of the strangers toward Ryan and Maya qualify. They stalk the couple, drifting in and out of sight. A masked man leers at Maya, unseen, as she showers. They chase the couple through the woods. And even the masks the strangers wear indicate violent intentions.

Maya and Ryan are terrified when they find a chicken with its throat slit tied to the ceiling inside the house—their first hint (though not the audience’s) that someone is in the home with them. Later, they find the word “Hello” and a smiley face drawn on a door in blood.

A motorcycle is set on fire as Maya and Ryan approach it. They try to escape using another vehicle, but they’re T-boned by one of the bad guys in a truck. And the driver continues to ram the truck into the car to prevent them from escaping.

Ryan manages to get hold of a shotgun, firing it at one of their attackers but missing. Later, he holds the gun to a masked woman’s head, demanding to know where Maya is. But the woman calls his bluff, and he never fires a shot.

While crawling, a woman accidentally impales her hand on an exposed nail. After, it’s removed, and her bleeding hand is wrapped with a makeshift bandage. People trip as they flee, often injuring themselves.

We hear a few emergency calls from victims of killers. As mentioned above, Ryan and Maya nearly get into a head-on collision. Ryan jokes about cannibalism. A man wields a tire iron in a threatening manner toward someone he mistakes for a car thief.

Crude or Profane Language

More than 20 uses of the f-word, eight uses of the s-word, two of “a–” and one of “h—.” God’s name is also misused about four times.

Maya displays her middle finger to Ryan as a joke.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Maya smokes marijuana, initially causing Ryan to doubt if she actually saw somebody in the house. Several characters drink beer.

Other Negative Elements

When Ryan accuses the mechanic of scamming them, Maya tells her boyfriend that he’s being paranoid. Ryan says she’s being naive.


The Strangers: Chapter 1 is the first installment in a new trilogy meant to serve as a prequel to 2008’s The Strangers. Although how this film, set in 2024, is meant to be a prequel to a film set in 2008 is beyond me. But the producers should probably double-check their press releases.

The entire film is your typical slasher-horror flick. There are jump scares, moments of peril and just a general eeriness throughout. And, predictably, every time you think the heroes might escape, they do something so dumb you wind up gritting your teeth in frustration.

The film isn’t gory so much as just scary. That said, victims bleed out after getting stabbed and one poor soul takes a shotgun to the face. Language takes its toll, too, with more than 20 uses of the f-word. And we see Maya and Ryan getting intimate in a few places, though things never get too explicit onscreen.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 doesn’t have much going for it. Yes, it got my heartrate going, because for all its flaws, the film actually does suspense really well.

But I also found myself ranting and raving about the terrible decisions made by the film’s protagonists. And when I thought about it, that sort of complaining wasn’t producing any sort of fruit of the Spirit. Rather, it was just riling me up about hypothetical violence that nobody really has any justification for viewing.

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Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.