Chilling Horror Picks: Movies Like The Strangers

By Published On: June 15, 2024Last Updated: June 14, 20244102 words20.6 min read

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“The Strangers: Chapter 1,” the latest installment in the terrifying franchise, has hit theaters. Directed by Renny Harlin, it initiates a trilogy set in the unsettling universe of masked killers. The story centers on Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Froy Gutierrez), a couple trapped in a remote woodland lodge, terrorized by these infamous antagonists.

Renowned as a standout in home invasion horror, “The Strangers” taps into primal fears, unsettling viewers in their own spaces. Echoing the original’s chilling impact, “The Strangers: Chapter 1” leverages its isolated setting, eerie visuals, and the dynamic between Maya and Ryan. For aficionados of this spine-tingling tale, these comparable horror flicks promise a similar atmosphere and ample frights.

‘Sick’ (2022)

Directed by: John Hyams
Screenplay by: Katelyn Crabb and Kevin Williamson
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: January 13, 2023
Runtime: 83 minutes

In the gripping 2022 slasher film “Sick,” directed by John Hyams and penned by Katelyn Crabb alongside renowned Scream writer Kevin Williamson, viewers are thrust into the heart of pandemic-era terror. The story unfolds amidst the COVID-19 lockdowns, centering on Parker (Gideon Adlon) and Miri (Bethlehem Million), who retreat to an isolated vacation property for quarantine. Their respite turns into a nightmare when they come under attack from a masked assailant with a chilling grudge against Parker.

Clocking in at a lean 83 minutes, “Sick” wastes no time delivering adrenaline-pumping action that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. Drawing on Williamson’s expertise in teen horror, showcased in iconic films like The Faculty, Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer, “Sick” modernizes his signature style with timely pandemic-themed horror. For enthusiasts of intense home invasion slashers akin to The Strangers: Chapter 1, “Sick” promises to resonate deeply.

John Hyams, known for his deft handling of tension and suspense in thrillers, brings a visceral edge to “Sick,” amplifying the fear and paranoia inherent in the lockdown setting. His collaboration with Williamson and Crabb underscores the film’s sharp narrative focus and relentless pace, ensuring a gripping viewing experience from start to finish.

Critics laud “Sick” for its unrelenting pace and effective blend of psychological terror with visceral thrills. It’s poised to captivate audiences seeking a gripping, pandemic-era horror that hits close to home. The performances by Gideon Adlon and Bethlehem Million are praised for their authenticity, anchoring the film’s tense atmosphere and emotional depth amidst the chaos.

“Sick” is currently available for streaming, rental, and purchase in the US market, offering horror aficionados multiple avenues to experience its chilling narrative firsthand.

For those craving a pulse-pounding journey into pandemic-era horror, “Sick” is a testament to John Hyams’ directorial prowess and Kevin Williamson’s timeless ability to craft suspenseful narratives. Dive into the terror-filled world of “Sick,” where isolation breeds fear and survival hangs in the balance.

‘Becky’ (2020)

Directed by: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Screenplay by: Nick Morris, Lane Skye, Ruckus Skye
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Release Date: June 5, 2020
Runtime: 93 minutes

“Becky” (2020), directed by Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion, follows the story of Becky (Lulu Wilson), a rebellious teenage girl dealing with the recent loss of her mother. When a group of dangerous convicts led by Dominick (Kevin James) invade her family’s lake house seeking a mysterious key, Becky must tap into her resourcefulness and survival instincts to protect herself and her family from the brutal intruders.

The film’s narrative tension builds steadily as Becky, brilliantly portrayed by Lulu Wilson, transforms from a grieving daughter into a fierce and cunning adversary against the ruthless convicts. The juxtaposition of Becky’s youthful innocence with the convicts’ raw brutality creates a gripping atmosphere of suspense and primal conflict.

Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s direction infuses “Becky” with visceral intensity and visual flair, leveraging the isolated setting of the lake house to amplify the sense of claustrophobic danger. The film’s cinematography and sound design contribute to the tension, drawing viewers deeper into Becky’s harrowing struggle for survival.

“Becky” has garnered praise for its unexpected blend of horror and thriller elements, anchored by Lulu Wilson’s commanding performance and Kevin James’s chilling portrayal against type as the menacing antagonist. Critics have highlighted the film’s effective use of suspense and its ability to subvert genre expectations, making it a standout entry in the home invasion thriller genre.

“Becky” is available for streaming and purchase, allowing audiences to experience its gripping narrative and intense performances from the comfort of home. Its availability across multiple platforms ensures accessibility for fans of suspenseful and emotionally charged cinema.

For viewers seeking a riveting and unconventional thriller, “Becky” delivers a compelling narrative driven by strong performances and atmospheric tension. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion’s direction and standout acting from Lulu Wilson and Kevin James make “Becky” a must-watch for those intrigued by stories of resilience and survival against overwhelming odds.

‘Vacancy’ (2007)

Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Mark L. Smith
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: April 20, 2007
Runtime: 85 minutes

Directed by Nimród Antal, “Vacancy” (2007) plunges viewers into a chilling scenario as a married couple, David (Luke Wilson) and Amy Fox (Kate Beckinsale), find themselves stranded at a remote motel after their car breaks down. Desperate for shelter, they reluctantly check into a dingy room filled with unsettling videotapes of murders that took place in the very room they’re staying in. As they realize they are being targeted by a group of sadistic killers who film their victims’ final moments, David and Amy must fight for their lives in a terrifying battle of wits and survival.

The tension in “Vacancy” intensifies with each moment as the couple uncovers the horrifying truth about the motel and its sinister operators. The film expertly plays on primal fears of isolation and vulnerability, turning the mundane act of checking into a motel room into a harrowing experience filled with suspense and dread.

Nimród Antal’s direction in “Vacancy” is marked by its claustrophobic atmosphere and relentless pacing, creating a sense of impending danger that looms over every frame. The motel setting amplifies the feeling of being trapped where danger lurks around every corner.

Critics and audiences alike have praised “Vacancy” for its effective blend of psychological terror and visceral thrills. Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale’s performances anchor the film, portraying a couple whose ordinary road trip turns into a nightmare of survival against sadistic adversaries. The film’s ability to sustain suspense and deliver unexpected twists has solidified it as a standout entry in the thriller-horror genre.

“Vacancy” pays homage to classic suspense films while injecting its modern twists, appealing to fans of intense, edge-of-your-seat cinema. Its portrayal of the vulnerability of everyday settings and the horrors that can lurk within resonates with audiences who appreciate psychological depth combined with pulse-pounding action.

“Vacancy” remains available for streaming and purchase, allowing new audiences to discover its gripping narrative and heart-pounding suspense. Its accessibility across various platforms ensures that viewers can experience the fear and tension of this chilling thriller at their convenience.

For viewers seeking a gripping and adrenaline-pumping thriller, “Vacancy” delivers a masterclass in suspense and terror. Nimród Antal’s direction, coupled with strong performances and a compelling premise, makes “Vacancy” a must-watch for anyone intrigued by tales of survival against insurmountable odds in the most unexpected places.

‘What Keeps You Alive’ (2018)

Directed by: Colin Minihan
Written by: Colin Minihan
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Release Date: March 10, 2018 (SXSW Film Festival)
Runtime: 98 minutes

Directed and written by Colin Minihan, ‘What Keeps You Alive’ (2018) delves into the unsettling tale of a married couple, Jules (Brittany Allen) and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson), celebrating their anniversary at a secluded cabin in the woods. As the idyllic retreat turns sinister, Jules discovers shocking truths about her wife Jackie’s past and the dark secrets threatening their lives. Caught in a deadly game of survival, Jules must navigate treacherous physical and psychological terrain to uncover the chilling depths of betrayal and deception.

‘What Keeps You Alive’ stands out for its psychological depth and intense character dynamics. It explores themes of trust, identity, and the lengths people will go to protect their own survival. The film expertly blends suspense and horror, gradually unraveling the facade of marital bliss to reveal a gripping tale of betrayal and survival instincts pushed to the limit.

Colin Minihan’s direction imbues the film with a palpable sense of dread and unease, utilizing the remote woodland setting to heighten tension and isolation. The atmospheric cinematography underscores the characters’ psychological turmoil, amplifying the sense of danger lurking within the serene surroundings.

‘What Keeps You Alive’ has garnered acclaim for its nuanced portrayal of relationships under extreme duress, anchored by strong performances from Brittany Allen and Hannah Emily Anderson. Critics have praised its exploration of psychological horror and the unpredictable twists that keep viewers on edge until the chilling conclusion.

The film’s exploration of betrayal and survival parallels classic thrillers while offering a contemporary take on the genre’s tropes. It appeals to audiences seeking thought-provoking narratives that blend visceral thrills with profound emotional resonance.

‘What Keeps You Alive’ continues to captivate audiences through streaming platforms and home media, allowing viewers to experience its gripping narrative and haunting atmosphere at their leisure. Its availability ensures accessibility for those drawn to suspenseful tales of deceit and survival against daunting odds.

For fans of psychological thrillers who delve into the darkest corners of human nature, ‘What Keeps You Alive’ is a compelling choice. Colin Minihan’s direction, coupled with powerful performances and a suspenseful narrative, makes it a standout entry in contemporary horror cinema. It resonates with audiences intrigued by complex characters and moral dilemmas in the face of imminent danger.

‘The Rental’ (2020)

Directed by: Dave Franco
Written by: Dave Franco and Joe Swanberg
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: July 24, 2020
Runtime: 88 minutes

Directed and co-written by Dave Franco, ‘The Rental’ (2020) begins innocently enough with two couples, Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie), along with Josh (Jeremy Allen White) and Mina (Sheila Vand), renting a picturesque seaside house for a weekend getaway. What starts as a retreat to unwind and celebrate quickly descends into paranoia and mistrust as they discover hidden cameras planted throughout the house. Tensions escalate as secrets unravel and suspicions mount, blurring the line between reality and nightmare.

‘The Rental’ builds tension through its atmospheric setting and nuanced character dynamics. Franco’s directorial debut showcases a keen sense of pacing, gradually heightening suspense while exploring themes of privacy invasion, trust, and the darker impulses lurking beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary relationships.

Dave Franco’s direction in The Rental underscores the vulnerability of the characters within the secluded coastal setting. The scenic backdrop juxtaposes the beauty of nature with the sinister undercurrents of the narrative. The film’s visual style and atmospheric soundtrack contribute to a palpable sense of dread, enhancing the psychological thriller elements.

Critics and audiences alike have praised ‘The Rental’ for its gripping storyline and effective blend of horror and suspense. The film’s exploration of trust issues and the consequences of unchecked surveillance resonates in an era where privacy concerns are increasingly prevalent. Strong performances from the ensemble cast, particularly Alison Brie and Sheila Vand, further elevate the film’s emotional impact and believability.

‘The Rental’ draws inspiration from classic suspense thrillers while infusing modern anxieties about technology and personal boundaries. Its approach to psychological horror and moral dilemmas faced by the characters has solidified its place among contemporary horror films that challenge audiences’ perceptions of safety and intimacy.

‘The Rental’ remains accessible through various streaming platforms and home media, allowing viewers to experience its suspenseful narrative and thought-provoking themes at their convenience. Its availability ensures continued interest from horror enthusiasts and cinephiles intrigued by narratives that explore psychological complexities and ethical quandaries.

For fans of psychological thrillers who delve into the repercussions of mistrust and surveillance, ‘The Rental’ offers a compelling and chilling viewing experience. Dave Franco’s confident directorial debut, strong performances, and tightly woven plot make it a standout in modern horror cinema, appealing to audiences seeking suspenseful narratives with thought-provoking themes.

‘Them’ (2006)

Directed by: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: April 19, 2006
Runtime: 77 minutes

Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, ‘Them’ (2006) is a tense psychological thriller set in an isolated countryside house. The story follows Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michaël Cohen), a young couple whose peaceful evening is shattered by terrifying events. They find themselves under siege by unknown assailants who stalk them relentlessly through the labyrinthine corridors of their own homes. As the night progresses, fear escalates into a fight for survival against faceless adversaries driven by unknown motives.

‘Them’ distinguishes itself through its minimalist approach to horror, relying on atmospheric tension and relentless pursuit rather than elaborate gore or supernatural elements. The film’s lean runtime intensifies the suspense, plunging viewers into a gripping cat-and-mouse game where every shadow and creak becomes a source of dread.

David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s direction in ‘Them’ emphasizes claustrophobia and vulnerability. The expansive yet eerie rural setting heightens a sense of isolation and helplessness. Natural lighting and sparse sound design enhance the realism of the protagonists’ plight, amplifying the audience’s unease.

Critics have lauded ‘Them’ for its ability to sustain tension and deliver effective scares through its relentless pacing and chilling atmosphere. The film’s realistic portrayal of primal fear resonates with audiences drawn to psychological thrillers that explore the fragility of human security and the unpredictability of terror.

‘Them’ has left a lasting impact on the horror genre, particularly within the subgenre of home invasion films. Its focus on psychological terror and the simplicity of its premise have influenced subsequent films that aim to evoke fear through subtlety and psychological manipulation rather than explicit violence.

‘Them’ continues to be available for streaming and home media platforms, ensuring its accessibility to horror aficionados seeking intense and unsettling cinematic experiences. Its status as a benchmark in minimalist horror underscores its enduring appeal and relevance in the genre.

For viewers captivated by psychological thrillers emphasizing atmospheric tension and relentless pursuit, ‘Them’ remains a cornerstone of minimalist horror cinema. David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s deft direction, coupled with strong performances and a chilling premise, cements ‘Them’ as a must-watch for those drawn to narratives that explore primal fears and the fragility of security in familiar surroundings.

‘Us’ (2019)

Directed by: Jordan Peele
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: March 22, 2019
Runtime: 116 minutes

Directed by Jordan Peele, ‘Us’ (2019) is a chilling exploration of duality and societal fractures through the lens of horror. The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o) and her family as they encounter malevolent doppelgängers of themselves while on vacation. These sinister counterparts, known as the Tethered, emerge from the shadows to terrorize the Wilsons, revealing a dark and disturbing connection that threatens to unravel their lives.

‘Us’ is celebrated for its thought-provoking premise and layered storytelling, blending elements of psychological horror with sharp social commentary. Peele masterfully weaves themes of identity, privilege, and the shadow self into a gripping narrative that challenges viewers to confront their fears and perceptions.

Jordan Peele’s direction in Us showcases his ability to infuse horror with deeper meaning. The film utilizes symbolism and visual metaphors to unsettle and provoke thought. Its meticulously crafted imagery and suspenseful pacing enhance its thematic depth, offering audiences a visceral and cerebral horror experience.

Critics and audiences alike have praised ‘Us’ for its innovative approach to horror and powerhouse performances, particularly Lupita Nyong’o’s dual role as protagonist and antagonist. The film’s exploration of the darker aspects of humanity resonates with viewers drawn to horror films that transcend genre conventions.

‘Us’ has significantly impacted the horror genre following Peele’s acclaimed debut with ‘Get Out.’ Its thematic richness and narrative complexity have influenced discussions around horror as a vehicle for social commentary, cementing Peele’s status as a visionary filmmaker.

‘Us’ continues to be available for streaming and on various home media platforms, ensuring its accessibility to horror enthusiasts and cinephiles interested in exploring innovative and intellectually stimulating cinema. Its thematic depth and unsettling atmosphere make it a standout choice for those seeking horror films that provoke both fear and introspection.

‘Us’ is a compelling testament to Jordan Peele’s creative vision and ability to redefine horror through a blend of psychological depth and visceral thrills. With its memorable performances, thought-provoking themes, and meticulous craftsmanship, ‘Us’ remains essential for anyone captivated by the horror that challenges, unsettles, and leaves a lasting impression.

‘I See You’ (2019)

Directed by: Adam Randall
Genre: Thriller, Horror
Release Date: December 6, 2019
Runtime: 96 minutes

Directed by Adam Randall, ‘I See You’ (2019) is a gripping thriller that deftly blends supernatural elements with psychological suspense. The film centers on the Harper family living in a small town, where disturbing events begin to unfold after their young son goes missing. As Detective Greg Harper (played by Jon Tenney) investigates the disappearance, eerie occurrences and sinister secrets within the household come to light, unraveling a complex web of deception and betrayal.

‘I See You’ captivates audiences with intricate plot twists and atmospheric tension. The narrative unfolds from multiple perspectives, keeping viewers on edge as they uncover layers of mystery and psychological intrigue. The film’s ability to merge supernatural horror with grounded human drama adds depth and unpredictability to its storytelling.

Adam Randall’s direction in ‘I See You’ is praised for its skillful manipulation of suspense and its clever narrative structure. The film employs subtle visual cues and unsettling cinematography to enhance the sense of unease, creating an immersive experience that lingers long after the credits roll. Randall’s deliberate pacing and meticulous attention to detail contribute to the film’s eerie atmosphere and palpable sense of dread.

Critics have lauded ‘I See You’ for its originality and ability to subvert genre expectations. The film’s unpredictable plot twists and nuanced character development have resonated with audiences seeking thrillers that challenge conventional storytelling. Jon Tenney’s compelling portrayal of Detective Greg Harper anchors the film while supporting performances further elevate its suspenseful tone.

‘I See You’ stands out within the thriller genre for its innovative storytelling approach and exploration of psychological themes. The film’s exploration of trust, perception, and the darkness within human nature echoes classic thrillers while infusing modern sensibilities. Its impact on audiences and its contribution to the thriller genre underscores its significance as a standout entry in contemporary cinema.

‘I See You’ is available for streaming and on various home media platforms, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in its gripping narrative and atmospheric suspense. Its blend of supernatural elements and psychological depth makes it a compelling choice for fans of thrillers that delve into the complexities of human behavior and the shadowy realms of the unknown.

‘I See You’ distinguishes itself with its sophisticated storytelling, atmospheric tension, and standout performances. Adam Randall’s direction, coupled with a compelling narrative and well-executed plot twists, ensures the film resonates with audiences seeking thrillers that deliver psychological depth and spine-tingling suspense. For viewers intrigued by mysteries that unravel unexpectedly, ‘I See You’ promises a riveting and unforgettable cinematic experience.

‘Creep’ (2014)

Directed by: Patrick Brice
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Runtime: 77 minutes

Directed by Patrick Brice, ‘Creep’ (2014) is a found-footage horror film that unfolds as a chilling character study. The story follows Aaron (played by Patrick Brice himself), a videographer who answers an online ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town. Upon arrival, Aaron meets Josef (Mark Duplass), who hires him to document his life for his unborn son due to a terminal illness. As the day progresses, Aaron becomes increasingly uncomfortable with Josef’s erratic behavior and unsettling confessions, leading to a series of unnerving revelations that escalate into a terrifying climax.

‘Creep’ stands out for its minimalist approach to horror, relying on atmospheric tension and psychological manipulation rather than conventional scares. The film explores themes of deception, paranoia, and the blurred lines between reality and delusion. Mark Duplass delivers a standout performance as Josef, portraying a character whose charismatic demeanor veils a sinister agenda. The tension builds organically as Aaron’s initial unease transforms into fear and desperation, creating an immersive and unsettling viewing experience.

Patrick Brice’s direction in ‘Creep’ is commendable for its ability to elicit fear through subtle nuances and psychological unease. The found-footage format enhances the film’s authenticity and intimacy, drawing viewers into Aaron’s increasingly claustrophobic and perilous situation. Brice masterfully manipulates the audience’s perception of Josef, gradually revealing layers of his character’s instability and menace. The sparse setting of the mountain town adds to the film’s sense of isolation and dread, amplifying the impact of its terrifying narrative.

‘Creep’ has garnered praise for its originality and unconventional approach to horror storytelling. Critics have highlighted its effective use of tension and Duplass’s compelling performance as driving forces behind its success. The film’s ability to subvert genre expectations and deliver genuine scares without resorting to typical horror tropes has resonated with audiences seeking thought-provoking and psychologically unsettling cinema.

‘Creep’ has influenced a resurgence of interest in found-footage horror, demonstrating that effective storytelling and character development can elevate the genre beyond its perceived limitations. Its exploration of human behavior and the nature of trust in unsettling circumstances has left a lasting impression on horror enthusiasts and filmmakers alike. The film’s success has spawned a sequel, further cementing its impact on contemporary horror cinema.

‘Creep’ is available for streaming on various platforms, making it accessible to audiences intrigued by its unconventional narrative style and psychological depth. Its reputation as a standout entry in found-footage horror ensures its enduring appeal among viewers who appreciate nuanced storytelling and genuine scares.

‘Creep’ remains a standout example of how effective storytelling and strong performances can create palpable horror. Patrick Brice’s direction and Mark Duplass’s captivating portrayal craft a gripping narrative that resonates long after the credits roll. For viewers drawn to psychological suspense and the unsettling exploration of human behavior, ‘Creep’ offers a compelling and chilling cinematic experience that defies traditional horror conventions.

‘Black Christmas’ (1974)

Directed by: Bob Clark
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: October 11, 1974
Runtime: 98 minutes

Directed by Bob Clark, ‘Black Christmas’ (1974) is a seminal horror film that predates the slasher genre boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Set during the Christmas season, the film takes place in a sorority house where a group of young women are terrorized by mysterious, obscene phone calls. As the holiday festivities progress, the calls escalate into more sinister threats and disappearances. The tension mounts as the sorority sisters realize they are being stalked by an unknown assailant who has infiltrated their home.

‘Black Christmas’ is celebrated for its atmospheric tension, innovative camerawork, and suspenseful storytelling. Unlike many later slasher films, which often focus on graphic violence, ‘Black Christmas’ relies on psychological horror and the unseen presence of the killer to create fear. The film builds a sense of dread through its suspenseful pacing and the eerie, unsettling nature of the phone calls, which serve as a harbinger of impending violence.

Bob Clark’s direction in ‘Black Christmas’ is notable for its restrained yet effective approach to horror. Using point-of-view shots from the killer’s perspective enhances the film’s suspense, creating a sense of voyeurism and unease. Clark effectively employs the sorority house setting, turning the familiar and seemingly safe environment into a claustrophobic and threatening space. The film’s deliberate pacing allows the tension to simmer, culminating in a gripping and shocking climax that has left a lasting impact on horror cinema.

‘Black Christmas’ received critical acclaim upon its release for its innovative narrative structure and subversion of genre conventions. Critics praised its ability to generate fear through suggestion rather than explicit violence, marking it as a precursor to later slasher films like ‘Halloween’ (1978). The film’s portrayal of female characters as resourceful and capable in the face of danger also garnered positive attention for its progressive stance within the horror genre.

Beyond its initial release, ‘Black Christmas’ has become a cult classic and significantly influenced subsequent horror films. Its blend of holiday themes with suspenseful horror elements has inspired numerous adaptations and remakes, attesting to its enduring relevance and impact. The film’s ability to evoke fear through anticipation and psychological manipulation has solidified its reputation as a cornerstone of the horror genre, influencing generations of filmmakers and captivating audiences with its chilling atmosphere.

‘Black Christmas’ is available for streaming on various platforms, allowing new audiences to discover its timeless terror. Its status as a seminal work in horror history ensures its accessibility and appeal to cinephiles and horror enthusiasts, who appreciate its craftsmanship and enduring ability to instill fear.

‘Black Christmas’ remains a landmark in horror cinema, distinguished by its innovative approach to suspense and its influence on the genre. Bob Clark’s direction, coupled with a strong ensemble cast and a chilling premise, delivers a gripping tale of terror that continues to captivate and unsettle audiences. For viewers seeking a classic horror experience that relies on atmosphere, tension, and psychological depth, ‘Black Christmas’ offers a masterclass in suspenseful storytelling that transcends its holiday setting to deliver timeless scares.

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