A horror remake.

The_Town_That_Dreaded_Sundown_(2014_film)_poster

I have never seen the original, but opted to check out the 2014 version for the heck of it. One thing that is certainly interesting about this one is that is explicitly references the original. I think this should be classified more as a sequel than a remake—though I suppose those two things are blurred more frequently than we might think.

The movie follows the Phantom, an unknown and never caught killer from decades before who seems to have resurfaced. I truly enjoy the brutality and ruthlessness of the opening of the film. It is high time we have a good slasher flick and this one starts with a lot of promise.

The film looks sharp. There are a lot of cool scenes and interesting camera angles. If I had to gripe (which I do because I am an ass) they do stack too many shots on top of each other. Instead of being able to really enjoy one shot we are immediately thrust into the next one.

We follow Jami (Addison Timlin) who survives an encounter with the Phantom early in the film. The town treats her realistically, some indifferent, some caring, some shitty. The Texarkana setting feels authentic, and there is a sense that the town is trapped within the past crimes and will never fully recover.

There are a lot of cool things in this film, but it doesn’t fit what the film promises. The original film focused more on a spree killer rather than a serial killer, and the latter is what this film seems to be doing. Weeks pass in this film, and the original footage makes it seem like this happened a lot faster. This might seem like a small complaint, but I think spree killers are interesting and so rarely examined in film. Don’t get me wrong, the film is interesting, but a faster pace would ramp the tension up. The film description also indicates this as something that will occur in one night.

The historical issues of the killer and the way that people react is a major focus of this film. We get an interesting look at the after effect of crime that is rarely even given a passing glance in cinema. I appreciated these elements.

Some of the acting is a little rough around the edges. In particular, with the police interacting with Jami. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is some needless antagonism in several moments.

The film is short, but even with this limited run time is does kind of meander towards a somewhat predictable end. Overall though, we have a pretty cool little mystery that kind of works like a beta run of True Detective. The ending gets a bit off the rails, but I enjoyed myself overall.

That is, until I spent 5 seconds thinking about the film. The problem with this movie is that once the ending is revealed so much of the film stops making any sense. Instead, almost the entire narrative will falter at any close analysis. Granted, the film is fun to watch as it goes, but the aftertaste is quite bitter. Instead of a tight slasher film, we have one that is entirely reliant on events that simply don’t make any sense.

I am not entirely sure what to rank this film as. It is fun to watch, but kind of sucks the day after. In a weird way, the film is a victim of its own efforts to twist the standard narrative, where a standard narrative is what would have made it great. 5/10.

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