The Town That Dreaded Sundown

"Good"

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Review


Layers of real life and movie history combine cleverly in this postmodern horror film, which just might be too knowing for its own good. But at least it's an unusual approach to the genre, offering a twisted retelling of a legend while aiming for some emotional resonance along with the usual violent nastiness. It's also directed with an unusually artful eye by first-time filmmaker Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

It was a series of unsolved murders in a small town on the Texas-Arkansas border in 1946 that inspired the 1976 movie of the same name, which screens here annually on Halloween. But this year, the screening is accompanied by a copycat murder, which escalates into a full-on rampage. Everything seems to centre around Jami (Addison Timlin), a teenager whose boyfriend was the first victim. After her parents died, she was raised by her straight-talking grandmother (Veronica Cartwright), who continually urges her to take charge of her life. So with the local cops unable to solve the case, Jami teams up with the local library archive clerk Nick (Travis Tope) to get the whole history of these past events. Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger (Anthony Anderson) arrives to head up the official investigation.

Screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gleefully blends fact, fiction and the movies together into a heady mixture of horror movie cliches and shockingly realistic grisliness. In other words, this is both a fictional sequel and a playful true-life drama at the same time, which makes it feel eerily like the Scream franchise. Although this film never becomes a pastiche, and the characters are so likeable that we genuinely root for them to survive the killing spree. Timlin brings the right amount of plucky stubbornness to her role, even if it's unlikely that a witness-victim would be quite so gung-ho about doing her own police work. And there are nice turns from veterans like Cartwright, Ed Lautner (as a stubborn cop) and the late Edward Herrmann (as a nutty preacher) to add some weight.

In the end, director Gomez-Rejon abandons most of these smart touches for a series of rather obvious horror climaxes that will make genre fans happy but don't follow through on the promise of the offbeat material. He also stops having fun along the way, turning things oddly over-serious when it comes to the violence (the sex is still very silly). So while the film's twisty, smart attitude make it feel like something unusual, it's never quite as scary or entertaining as it should be.



The Town That Dreaded Sundown

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th October 2014

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: Blumhouse Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 3

IMDB: 5.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Producer: Ryan Murphy,

Starring: as Jami, as Corey, as Deputy Foster, as Chief Deputy Tillman, as Lillian, as Charles B. Pierce, Jr., as Lone Wolf Morales, Travis Tope as Nick, Andy Abele as Sackhead, as Reverend Cartwright, as Sheriff Underwood, as Dr. Kelly, as Danny, Morganna May as Kendra (as Morganna Bridgers), Jaren Mitchell as Johnny, as Roy, as Arkansas Mayor, Geraldine Singer as Texas Mayor, Geraldine Singer as Sheriff Rutland, Lanee Landry as Ardele, Colby Boothman-Shepard as Paul Mason, Bill Stinchcomb as Mr. Holland, Andrea Cohen as Mrs. Holland, Dodie Brown as Townsperson, John J. Mourain as Farmer, Pam Dougherty as Mrs. Scott, as Older Farmer, M. Serrano as Soldier #1, Gerry May as Newscaster, Garrett Kruithof as Ronald Murray, Tammi Arender as Newscaster #2, Gracie Whitton as Young Jami, as Townsperson #2, Jeff Easterling as Radio Announcer, John Donnell as Sparkplug, Nathaniel Holt as Hank, Brad Victory as Benjamin, Alyssa Chipman as Mary, Michael McCormick as Young Jamie's Father, Katie Little as Young Jami's Mother, Charles B. Pierce as Man in Diner, Jeremy Ambler as Gas Station Geezer, Grace Roberson as Chrissie, Dave Nelson as Projectionist, Beti B. Gomes-Rejon as Preacher's Wife, Michael P Gardner as Texas Sheriff

Also starring: ,

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