Like The Strangers, new film The Strangers: Prey at Night begins with the message that the film you’re about to see is based on true events. But how much of what made its way on screen actually happened in real life? Well, if you’re having nightmares about murders at neon-lit pools and flaming trucks, you’ll be happy to know all that stuff is fiction.
Actually, the events that inspired The Strangers: Prey at Night are the same as the events that inspired writer/director Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers. Meaning that the only thing “based on true events” about Prey at Night is that the general idea of “strangers” committing random crimes was loosely based upon a true event from Bertino’s own childhood – as well as an infamous string of real-life murders that shocked America.
Bertino explained around the time of The Strangers‘ release, “As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody who didn’t live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors on the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses.”
Another source of inspiration for Bertino was the real-life Manson Family murders of 1969, wherein Sharon Tate and friends were brutally slaughtered in Tate’s home.
“I was thinking about the Tate murders and realizing that these detailed descriptions had painted a story of what it was like in the house with the victims. But none of the victims knew about the Manson family or why it was happening to them,” Bertino once noted. “So, I got really fascinated with telling the victims’ tale. And not filling it in with an FBI profile and not filling it in with finding out that somebody’s grandmother beat them and now they want to kill everybody. You read obituaries every day where someone is killed for a random reason. Yes, we may eventually find out why, but sometimes they don’t.”
The randomness of the Manson murders, combined with Bertino’s childhood experience, formed the basis of what became The Strangers. Ten years later, those same two inspirations helped form The Strangers: Prey at Night, a reboot of Bertino’s premise.
Prey at Night director Johannes Roberts just told Metro, “Bryan Bertino, who wrote the screenplay, actually had the same exact things happen to him in terms of the girl coming up to the house and knocking at the door. Then there were all these burglaries around his house. Then he mixed that in with the Charles Manson stuff. That’s really where all of the inspiration came from for him. Brian wrote the first one, too, and they are both the same sort of event.”
The specific events of Prey at Night, well, they’re entirely fiction. So sleep tight.
Oh and if someone knocks at your door, maybe don’t answer it…