The Strangers explained: the true story behind Kristen McKay and James Hoyt

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This article reveals the explained plot and the detailed events in Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers, revealing its meaning and storyline. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.

An Interview with Cameron Trost
An Interview with Cameron Trost

Home intrusion movies are among the most effective and scary within the horror genre. This is because they come close to a real fear of many of us, experienced in daily life. And in the “home invasion” films, 2008’s movie The Strangers is certainly one of the most beloved, able to offer everything a classic horror needs: disguised villains with a disturbing appearance, the evil that acts unstoppable and with no explanation , and the feeling that story will not stop.

The movie explained and the meanings

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There are some questions that arise after watching the film, trying to understand its symbols and giving oneself an explanation. Let’s try to answer them together.

Why are the three strangers doing all this?

That’s the question Kristen repeatedly asks the three invaders at the end of the film. And the answer is as simple as it is enigmatic: “because you were home”. The sense of the conversation is that there is no real reason behind the evil, and this makes evil even more frightening, because it presents itself without logic. There is no motive, no revenge, no connection with the personal stories of the protagonists. Three psychopaths go around terrorizing people in their homes, just for the fun of it.

What does the sentence “It’ll be easier next time” said by Pin-Up Girl mean?

In one of the film’s final scenes, the three stop a couple of boys handing out religious tracts. One of the girls gets out of the pickup and asks if she can get one, then she gets back in the vehicle. Pin-Up Girl comments: “It’ll be easier next time.” The most likely sense here is that with a tract in hand, next time they want to approach an isolated house for their cruel games, it will be easier to make first contact with those who live in the house (the girl talking is the one who knocks on the door of the house in the first part of the film, with a weak excuse). This is a sign that the three will not stop, and that what is seen in the film is a tried and tested routine destined to repeat itself.

According to an alternate fan theory, the killings in the first film would be a kind of initiation rite for Dollface, the smallest of the three, apparently a novice in that kind of business. With the phrase “It’ll be easier next time”, the other girl reassures Dollface that over time the difficulties she has found will be overcome.

Is Krysten alive at the end of the movie?

The final scream of the protagonist in the last frame of the film is certainly a horror expedient useful to close the film with one last scare. But it is also proof that the protagonist remains alive. The stabs she received evidently weren’t lethal.

The three true stories that inspired the film

There are three different real-life stories that served as inspiration for the film. Here they are:

  • The murder of Sharon Tate in 1969: it is one of the most sadly known stories in the American crime news, with the mind of Charles Manson behind it and films like Once upon a time … in Hollywood that have partially retraced the events. A group of intruders break into the home of the Hollywood diva and kill everyone in a furious manner. The full story is told in this article.
  • The Keddie Cabin Murders in 1981: this is also a very well known story in the United States. Four people who are killed in their apartment, without a reason and without a known culprit. The director confirmed that this was a direct inspiration for this movie.
  • A real experience of the director as a child: when Bryan Bertino was little, one night he heard strangers knocking at the house and was frightened. The strangers in that case realized that the house was occupied and went on further. Some time later, the director discovered that in other houses, if the intruders received no response, they would break into the house and ransack it.

In the beginning the narrator introduces Kristen McKay and James Hoyt as two individuals who really existed, but there is no trace of victims with those names in real life. Kristen McKay and James Hoyt are not real, but the murder stories that inspired the movie are.