In 2008, a group of masked killers claimed its first victims when Bryan Bertino's The Strangers debuted in theaters. Liv Tyler's Kristen and Scott Speedman's James weren't lucky enough to make it out of their remote house alive, and now the rampage continues ten years later with Johannes Roberts' The Strangers: Prey at Night. Fans of the original have clamored for a sequel for the last decade, and CinemaBlend recently had a chance to sit down with Roberts and talk about why Prey at Night doesn't directly deal with the fallout of the first movie. According to Roberts, though they did consider a direct sequel, they ultimately wanted to make Prey at Night its own thing. The British director explained:
Anything you can possibly imagine has been kicked around over the ten years. I'm sure they had Strangers in space at one point. A lot of different scenarios had been kicked around. When I took the project on one of the things that was in my mind was how direct a sequel this was gonna be. How many references to the original movie and all of that. We went back and forth and in the end felt that the thing that I really wanted to do was make this its own. That it fit the into the world of The Strangers but that it just was its own beast. There's a lot of little nods there and we played around with that, and we did kick around like 'What if Scott? What if Liv?'
Based on those remarks, it sounds like a number of different ideas for The Strangers 2 came and went as the years passed and the project continued to develop. There was a period in which the folks behind the film considered bringing James and Kristen back, or at least dealing with the fallout of their murders. However, the introduction of 47 Meters Down's Johannes Roberts to the equation sent the film down a path that ultimately turned it into an anthology focusing on a new set of victims hunted by the same killers.
That's not to say that there aren't elements of The Strangers DNA that show up in The Strangers: Prey at Night. Even from the sequel's earliest trailers, it's clear to see that The Strangers are using many of the same hunting techniques that they implemented in the first film, such as knocking on the door before the attack and drawing on the windows. Moreover, Johannes Roberts also made a point to note to CinemaBlend that this is definitely the same group of killers seen in the first film, rather than a group of Scream-esque copycats. James and Kristen were still definitely murdered in this world; Prey at Night just doesn't go out of its way to say anything about it because it's not germane to the story the sequel wants to tell.