9 Unanswered Questions From ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’

Some of these are serious questions, and some are just funny plot holes I noticed while watching.

The Strangers embrace during The Strangers: Chapter 1 (2024).

The first film in a new trilogy of The Strangers movies, The Strangers: Chapter 1, is now in theaters. The new movies have been described as an “odyssey” with Chapter 1 in particular characterized as “an homage” to the 2008 original. If you haven’t seen The Strangers: Chapter 1 yet, make sure you stay after the film for a quick post-credits scene and stop reading this article here as spoilers are ahead.

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‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’ detailed plot summary

Fans will recognize many callbacks to the 2008 film in Chapter 1 as the plot is structured similarly, with the major difference being more exposition in the first act.

Ryan (Froy Gutierrez) and Maya (Madelaine Petsch) on the porch of their AirBnb.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 begins with a man running through the woods where he is eventually killed by the male Stranger. The film then shifts to a vehicle where Ryan (Froy Gutierrez) and Maya (Madelaine Petsch) on a road trip to Portland, Oregon where the couple plans to start a new life together. Maya is an architect who is relocating for a job at an important architectural firm. Just three hours from their final destination, the couple ventures off the highway into the tiny town of Venus, Oregon to grab some food.

The couple pulls into a diner where the locals are a bit unfriendly towards them as outsiders. This divide increases when the townspeople hear that the couple is unmarried and that Maya is a vegetarian. Ryan and Maya also notice a “Missing” poster for the man we saw at the beginning of the film and take a pamphlet from young religious proselytizers who closely resemble the boys who discover Kristen (Liv Tyler) at the end of the original.

After eating, the couple discovers that their car will not start. Ryan is upset, convinced the local mechanic is scamming them by sabotaging the vehicle while they ate. Maya accepts their situation and convinces Ryan to enjoy their time at a local AirBnb while their car is fixed, and they can finish their road trip the following day.

The AirBnb is a hunting cabin in the woods outside of town, five miles from any neighbors. Someone knocks on the cabin’s door and asks for Tamara, but because the porch light is off, none of their features are visible. Ryan, a severe asthmatic who has already needed his inhaler once that day, discovers his inhaler has been left in his vehicle at the mechanic’s garage. He decides to use the AirBnb owner’s motorcycle to ride into town and retrieve it. Maya also asks him to get food while he is gone.

When Ryan picks up some burgers, he again encounters vaguely hostile locals who mumble about him being “too good” for them when Ryan declines to sit down and eat with them. He is also offered another religious pamphlet, which he declines.

Maya hears noises around the cabin while Ryan is gone, including someone singing “Hush, Little Baby”.

While Ryan is gone, one of The Strangers again comes to the door asking for Tamara, rattling Maya. When Maya showers, we can see the male Stranger in the bathroom watching her. Maya then sees the older female Stranger inside the house, and shuts herself inside a closet until Ryan returns. Because Maya smoked a joint while Ryan was gone, he believes she imagined the masked woman.

Ryan quickly becomes a believer when The Strangers start overtly attacking the couple inside the cabin. They escape through a bathroom vent to the home’s crawlspace thanks to Maya’s architectural knowledge. The couple then ventures into a shed on the property, hoping to find a hunting rifle. Maya encounters the older female Stranger in the shed, but Ryan finds a gun just in time to scare her off.

One of the most unpleasant scenes in The Strangers (2008) is revisited when Ryan believes he is shooting at one of The Strangers, but instead kills the property’s owner when he arrives to fix the broken refrigerator. The couple is unable to escape as The Strangers blow up the motorcycle and crash into the owner’s vehicle, rendering it unusable (and injuring Ryan in the process). Maya uses the owner’s phone to call for help, but is unsure whether her plea was received.

The male Stranger hunts his prey in the foggy woods surrounding the AirBnb cabin.

The third act contains a lot of running through the woods, but the couple is eventually captured by The Strangers and tied to chairs, again reminiscent of the original. Both Ryan and Maya are stabbed by The Strangers and are shown bleeding out. Sirens are heard approaching and The Strangers successfully escape.

The final scene shows Maya in a hospital room. Mid-way through the credits, the male Stranger is shown next to her in the hospital bed and that’s where The Strangers: Chapter 1 ends.

After watching Chapter 1, I had a few lingering questions about the film and where the trilogy is headed. Some of these are serious questions, and some are just funny plot holes I noticed while watching. We will find out which questions are answered as the second and third films in the trilogy are released in the fall and in early 2025.

Who is “Tamara”??

In each Strangers installment, a Stranger asks for “Tamara” at the door.

A recent Variety article promised that the new trilogy would answer this question. This isn’t a question people who have seen the first film likely had as it could easily be explained as a ruse to see who is in the house. Also, the lore the film is based on (writer Bryan Bertino recalled an experience from childhood where someone came to his door and asked for someone who didn’t live there) implied there’s no interesting answer to this question.

However, since we now know the trilogy intends to give info about the importance of The Strangers asking this question, we’re curious. No information about Tamara was given in Chapter 1.

See also: Is Tamara Home? — ‘The Strangers’ Trilogy Will Reveal Who Tamara Is

How does ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’ fit in with the previous movies?

I thought the new Strangers trilogy might be a prequel series, as we saw the Strangers die at the end of The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018). Early descriptions of the film even seemed to confirm their prequel status. However, the cellphones used by the characters in Chapter 1 are definitely more recent than the flip phones from the original. The use of AirBnb also dates this film as more recent than the flip phone era.

Liv Tyler cradles a gigantic phone in 2008’s The Strangers.

The new trilogy could be standalone films that do not interact with the stories from the 2008 and 2018 films, but that would be pretty disappointing. In Scream 3 horror nerd Randy Meeks taught us that trilogies (we can consider Chapter 1 the third Strangers film, or the new trilogy as a three-part third installment in the franchise) are all about going back to the original and discovering something new. So, the expectation is that by Chapter 3, we’re going to get a big reveal about the meta story of The Strangers.

Are The Strangers the same people in all the movies?

The male and older female Strangers share a touching (?) moment.

The Strangers seem like the same characters from the other films. There are three of them: a man, a woman, and (seemingly) a teenage girl. The Strangers appear to wear the same masks in all the films. They also have the same Modus Operandi: unscrewing the porch lightbulb before knocking on the door and asking for “Tamara” before slowly terrorizing the home’s inhabitants.

There is one small clue that there may be more Strangers, however, as a variety of masks are shown in one of the closets in the AirBnb. The masks and the opening kill make me wonder if perhaps “hunting cabin” is a community in-joke for the home being a location where Strangers routinely hunt humans.

Are The Strangers part of a cult?

The proselytizer boys at the end of The Strangers (2008).

Before seeing Chapter 1, I had a pet theory that the title characters are part of a religious cult. Evidence for this theory:

  • The Strangers knock on the door, similar to religious proselytizers.
  • The Strangers always ask if “Tamara” is home, which could be like how proselytizers start a conversation with asking if someone knows about Jesus. Perhaps Tamara is a deity or leader in the cult or simply a code word cult members use to identify each other.
  • We see literal religious proselytizers at the end of the 2008 film, and The Strangers stop to pick up a pamphlet from them. The proselytizers later find Liv Tyler’s character alive at the cabin, but her fate is unknown.
  • Characters who seem identical to the proselytizers in the 2008 film are shown in town in Chapter 1.
  • Chapter 1 depicts the townspeople as social conservatives, clutching their pearls when they discover Ryan and Maya have been dating for five years but are unmarried. There could be a connection to James and Kristen in the original being unmarried (a major plotpoint is that they are going to the cabin after James’ failed proposal to Kristen), or this could just be part of Chapter 1‘s homage to the original.
  • In Chapter 1, Ryan is offered a tract a second time, when he picks up food at night.
  • A cult may also explain how The Strangers are active in South Carolina in the original, Ohio in Prey at Night and Venus, Oregon in Chapter 1.
A close-up of the pamphlets from the 2008 movie.

One of the things I suspect Chapter 2 or Chapter 3 will definitely show is what’s inside the proselytizer pamphlets we keep seeing.

How do The Strangers track their prey?

Like many horror movie villains, The Strangers seem to be all-knowing.

The Strangers seem to be omnipotent while tracking their desired victims. They always seem to be one step ahead, able to silently creep throughout the cabin undetected and be exactly at the right place in order to surprise attack their prey. Do they have hidden cameras? Are they just exceptionally skilled hunters?

As this is a common characteristic of horror movie villains, it might just be part of telling a fictional story and not something we’ll ever get more information about.

Who is the guy at the beginning of ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?

Chapter 1 opens with a man in a suit running through the woods before being killed by the male Stranger. Later, Ryan and Maya spot a missing poster of the man, and a waitress tells them he visited the town previously. At first glance, this just seems like an opening kill that could be unconnected to the rest of the film. However, my spidey sense is tingling and it feels like there is more to this man’s story that we will discover later.

Who smokes inside an AirBnb??

Maya smokes and plays piano while Ryan is gone.

They were only staying for one night! What was the plan for airing the home out?

While we’re on the subject, who decides they can use an AirBnb host’s motorcycle without asking?? This decision was wild.

Is this a realistic portrayal of asthma?

If you have such severe asthma that you need your inhaler several times a day, why would you not carry multiple inhalers with you at all times? Ryan should have had at least one in his pocket, one in his luggage and one in the car.

Secondly, if you feel an asthma attack coming on, are you really down to drive a motorcycle alone for miles to go into town? What if the air quality was bad that day? Wouldn’t breathing in exhaust trigger an attack? It seems like Ryan should have stayed home while Maya tried to get the inhaler somehow.

Finally, Ryan’s asthma flairs up when he is spooked by The Strangers, but we don’t see it flair up when he is startled by the mechanic when he arrives at the garage. It’s just weird to have this be such a big part of the plot but executed in such a consistently unrealistic way.

What will ‘The Strangers: Chapter 2’ and ‘Chapter 3’ be about?

The ending of The Strangers: Chapter 1 is very similar to the ending of The Strangers (2008).

At the end of Chapter 1 we see Maya waking up in a hospital, recovering from her stab wounds. A short post-credits scene shows the male Stranger in bed beside her at the hospital. We don’t know if this is Maya’s hallucination, or where Chapter 2 will pick up.

Simply doing a sequel or remake didn’t appeal to me, but this was such an opportunity to have four and a half hours of a case study of victims of a violent crime and the perpetrators and what makes them tick and how it affects a person who goes through this.

Director Renny Harlin, to Variety

What we do know is that Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 will follow Maya as The Strangers continue to attack her, according to star Madelaine Petsch. As her character’s journey continues, Petsch says, “It’s not necessarily all only home invasion, but they continue to invade her life in any way possible. Even in ways you don’t think are possible, they’re doing something fucked up. We really bend the rules a lot, which is fun.”

The Strangers trilogy will continue with The Strangers: Chapter 2 and The Strangers: Chapter 3 set to be released in fall 2024 and sometime in 2025 respectively.

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Meet The Author

Chrissy is the co-founder of Creepy Catalog. She has over 10 years of experience writing about horror, a degree in philosophy and Reiki level II certification.

Chrissy Stockton