The Strangers Chapter 1: Who is Tamara?

Making a pit stop in a small town turns lethal for a couple in ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’ when they find themselves hunted by three masked killers who have no intention of letting them go, no matter how far they run. The protagonists are Maya and Ryan, who are on their way to Portland but spend the night in a small town named Venus because their car broke down. They receive shelter in a cabin in the woods, which looks pretty good at first glance but turns into a trap when they are attacked and there is no one around to help. But things don’t get dire all at once. The first creepy thing to happen is the knock at the door and a teenage girl repeatedly asking, “Is Tamara home?” We don’t get any explanation of who Tamara is, but the story behind this line explains a lot about the movie. SPOILERS AHEAD

Tamara’s Reference Comes From a Real-Life Incident

Before the attackers make themselves known to Ryan and Maya, they are creeped out by a girl who violently knocks at their door and asks them if Tamara is home. At first, the couple believes that Tamara must be someone belonging to the cabin’s owner’s family, but then, the next time the girl comes back knocking, it becomes clear that the purpose of this question is something else entirely.

The Tamara reference in the movie comes from the original ‘The Strangers,’ written and directed by Bryan Bertino. Much like ‘Chapter 1,’ Bertino’s film also has one of the killers knocking at the door and asking if Tamara is home. It is quite a memorable dialogue from the film, but interestingly, the question of Tamara’s identity is left unaddressed in the film. Explaining the reason behind including this dialogue in the movie, Bertino explained that he drew it from a real experience he had as a kid. Back then, he lived in a somewhat secluded house. One night, someone knocked at their door, and when his sister answered it, the people at the door asked about a certain person, wondering if they were home.

The question stuck with the director because later, he discovered that those people were actually robbers who had been going around the neighborhood knocking on doors. If someone answered, they would ask the question and leave. But no one answered, they would know that the house was empty and they would rob it. While it is not confirmed whether the robbers actually used the name “Tamara,” Bertino revealed that this was something he wanted to incorporate into the story, but with a different intention. In real life, the robbers would be driven away if someone answered the door, but in the film, this does not deter the killers. Rather, once it is confirmed that someone is home, their hunting games begin, and so does the terror for the people inside the house.

Tamara’s Identity May be Revealed in the Following Films

‘The Strangers Chapter 1’ works as a reinvention of Bertino’s film, but director Renny Harlin wanted to keep the essence of the original film. It makes sense that he kept the most famous dialogue from the movie into his own version, and this has opened an opportunity for the film to answer the question plaguing the fans for more than fifteen years. Harlin confirmed that the intent of expanding one film into three was to dive into the origins of the Strangers and to find out more about their identities and intentions. The three-part series is meant to expand the world and characters introduced by Bertino, and the inclusion of Tamara is an important part of it.

Considering the intention behind the original Tamara dialogue, Harlin’s version might also refrain from giving a concrete answer to this question as the ambiguity of this question increases its creep factor. The not-knowing makes the question even more ominous because, just like a magician’s trick, if the answer is revealed, the mystery will disappear, and so will the fear. If this happens, then the audience will have to suffice with the fact that there really is no Tamara. Most likely, it is a question concocted by the killers to introduce a sense of dread in their victims before the hunt actually starts. The knocking at the door is enough to rattle a person living in the woods where they know no one else for five miles. The fact that there is someone out there scares the victims, psychologically weakening them.

Inversely, because the film intends to expand on the original’s mythology, they might want to answer the question. The idea is to shed more light on the Strangers, and revealing Tamara’s identity might be the key. From what we know so far from the first film, it is clear that the Strangers are, in some form, a family. In one scene, we see Pin-Up Girl resting her head on Scarecrow’s chest. It indicates that they may be a couple. Dollface, on the other hand, seems to be younger than them and could either be their daughter or Pin-Up Girl’s sister. Or, she could be entirely unrelated to them by blood and might just be a young psychopath Scarecrow and Pin-Up Girl picked up along the way.

There are all sorts of possibilities about Tamara’s identity, one being that she might have been one of their first victims. Or, she might be the one who got away, and the trio is searching for her. What’s more interesting is that Tamara might actually be the name of one of Dollface or Pin-Up Girl. We know that the killers are already inside the house when Ryan and Maya arrive there. So, if one of them is named Tamara and the other knocks at the door asking for her, it serves as an inside joke for the trio. Because they know that Tamara is in the house, but Ryan and Maya don’t. If this is how it really is, then the question becomes even more foreboding. In case one of the victims survives and the next time someone knocks at their door and asks, “Is Tamara home?”, they will know what is about to happen.

Read More: The Strangers Chapter 1 Post Credits Scene: What Does it Mean for Maya?