Hey gang, Valkor here. On top of all the shopping for treats, spooky decorations and the purchasing of costumes, one has to also put together a heaping helpful of horror movies cap the night off with a scare or two. You could take the easy route and go with a classic, but why pass up the chance to check out something new right? Just recently I popped in a film “The Town That Dreaded Sundown”, which is something like "old meets new". Sure it has a long title, but the film isn't short on scares.
Texarkana, a small town between two states – Texas and Arkansas, has a little bloody history attached to it. Some 65 years prior, a masked murder known as The Phantom has plagued the town’s youth, killing them after dark. Suddenly the murders stopped and the town’s people believed they know who did it, so they put it all to rest. However, every year since the incidents the town’s people have aired a film based on the killings titled… well, “The Town That Feared Sundown”, which also showcased the gruesome murders similar to the events that happened in real life. And as we move to the present day viewing of the film, we come across Jami (Addison Timlin) and Corey (Spencer Treat Clark – Deep Dark Canyon) – two lovers caught up in the moment of each other’s company, but not really enjoying the film. They decide to sneak away to someplace quiet for a little “alone time”. But that intimate moment is disrupted by a mysterious hooded figure that attacks and kills Corey, leaving Jami alive to deliver a message “Remember Mary”. Is he a copycat killer or has the real deal resurfaced?
Not only does Jami have to deal with alerting the town of the killer’s return and the message he wants her to deliver, but she takes it upon herself to do a bit of back-tracking on the history of the killer to find out if the one causing the murders is actually the real killer. And with this knowledge she may put an end to the grisly murders once and for all. Well that's not entirely true, but she will put an end to the murders. *ahem*tinyspoiler*ahem
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is something of a sequel/remake of the original film of the same name; the great thing about this is the actual cult classic film is incorporated into this new one, so you’ll see clips of it here and there plus some of the murders in the new film match that of the previous (i.e. the trombone stab in the back). It’s a film I definitely want to seek out, but how does this new one hold up?
I’ve never watched the original so I can’t really compare it, but on its own, this newer version is pretty well done. It’s dark, creepy, gruesome and very engaging. Right from the jump, I was creeped out by the lone killer standing off in the distance until he mysteriously vanishes, only to suddenly reappear to take on Jami and Corey. Chilling! And there are quite a few jump scares like that, thankfully well spread out. This is the kind of film that really does grab you and you’re just absorbed into all the goings on until “something” happens and then you’re thrown for a scary loop! I loved it! Is it perfect? Not by a long shot, but its certainly better than most of the horror I've had to sit through and this is definitely a film you’ll enjoy with the lights out. The gore isn’t too heavy, but what’s there looks pretty gruesome. And the acting is tolerable; I was quite surprised and pleased by Anthony Anderson’s performance; I’m too used to seeing him screaming and hopping all over the place, so it’s really nice to see him in a smoother, mellower, calmer role. Addison Timlin also rocks a decent performance and that one love scene shows she also has "the goods". Mmmmmf! The tone is right, the acting is on par and the story is pretty engaging, so what could possibly go wrong?
Yea the film does suffer from a few hiccups, mainly in the pacing. Thankfully the story is solid, but it does tend to drag in certain areas. Next, I find that some of the townsfolk aren’t all that bright; you’re town is haunted by a killer who attacks at night, so why would anyone go out after dark? I’m not talking about the soldier who just returned home, but the two dudes who were feeling a little frisky and decided to have some fun in a junkyard. Really? REALLY? Next, I hated how the camera just hangs on certain characters as if to see “ooohhhh! This might be the killer!”, it was completely unnecessary because it’s too obvious. Why not let the story flow naturally without putting people in the spotlight? Finally, the ending is just OK, but it feels rather tacked on and rushed. Still a good ending with a nice twist, but it doesn’t pop as well as it should.
Poor Hank… he gets it right in the middle of a BJ. But if you gotta go, that’s how I’d like to go.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is available now on the digital fronts (I found the classic on Netflix and the newer one on Amazon Prime); and while the film has its faults, it’s still makes for a creepy yet entertaining horror to add to your Halloween movie queue. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give The Town That Dreaded Sundown a 3.5.