31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #31 – Get Out (2017)

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Director: Jordan Peele

Writer(s): Jordan Peele

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Universal Pictures

Budget: $4.5m

Box Office: $251.8m

Release Date: 24 February, 2017

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 99%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Daniel Kaluuya – Chris Washington

Allison Williams – Rose Armitage

Catherine Keener – Missy Armitage

Bradley Whitford – Dean Armitage

Caleb Landry Jones – Jeremy Armitage

Marcus Henderson – Walter

Betty Gabriel – Georgina

Lakeith Stanfield – Andrew Logan King

Stephen Root – Jim Hudson

LilRel Howery – Rod Williams

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

It’s time for a young African-American to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly ambience will give way to a nightmare.

Inertia’s Insight

Not many directors will ever have their first film bestowed with the accolades and commendations that Get Out has received. Whilst no stranger to the entertainment industry, Jordan Peele’s first outing behind the camera in the world of horror is a stark, deeply disturbing psychological horror with perfect political and racial subtext mixed in with some cracking one-liners.

Chris is about to meet his girlfriend’s parents for the first time at their countryside retreat. He’s reluctant, and understandably so: he’s black, she’s white. Even in 2017 we still haven’t advanced enough as a society for racism to be obsolete. He is concerned about acceptance, and despite Rose’s reassurances, his theory of acceptance rings true during an awkward encounter with a police officer on the way to their house.

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Rose’s parents are warm and welcoming, but there’s always a tickle at the back of our mind that leaves us guessing. There are clues, too; not just their overfamiliarity with him but also their determination to recognise that he is black. The Barack Obama line is a perfect example, one that is both funny and uncomfortable. This is where Peele excels, expertly building tension and a subtle sense of paranoia, leaving us hanging on ever word from the Armitage family in order to understand what their ulterior motive is.

The paranoia that Chris feels is felt by the audience. We know it’s right for him to feel this way, even though we wish he didn’t. But it’s the black on black sabotage that is strikingly odd. Just why is the maid and the gardener acting so strange? The scene with the maid where Chris talks to her in the bedroom is an incredible and unsettling piece of acting, aided by Peele’s expert framing of the shot.

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Peele & co have built enough anticipation with trailers and posters for us to know that something is definitely not right with Rose’s family, but it’s the what that keeps us hooked. We naturally veer towards slavery, as the dynamics of the black and white people at one of the party’s seems to indicate. Yet when it is revealed, it’s even worse than you could imagine. In part complimentary but in whole just utterly deplorable.

Daniel Kaluuya gives an impressive performance as Chris. Sweet and tender, his talent lies in his ability to tell the story through his face. The most notable scene as featured on the poster is shocking, but it’s Chris that sells it. It’s no wonder it’s become iconic and synonymous with the movie.

The party scene is superb. For most of the film, Peele’s horror comes from these shocking scenes, all psychological and suggestive. When Chris takes a picture of one of the guests, what ensues is just crazy, only furthering our belief that we really don’t know what’s happening here, despite what we may think.

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The scene with her brother really opens up the dynamic though, as his actions go someway to revealing their intentions. It all builds to the final act, where the mystery is revealed, a skewered version of idolisation that veers towards the manic. Chris’ fight for survival is fraught with obstacles, the comedic tones from his best friend providing us with some much needed relief.

For a first film, Jordan Peele has crafted one of the decade’s best psychological horror films. Astute, subversive, comedic and terrifyingly real, a film indebted to Trump’s America.

Who knew a cup and saucer could be so scary?

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★★★★

Trivia

  • The film was shot in just 28 days
  • Stayed in the US box office top 10 for its first two months of release
  • Jordan Peele cited Night of the Living Dead as an inspiration for making his feature film debut
  • The stark black and white cinematic poster showing a cropped close-up of the protagonists’ eyes is an inverted reference to the poster of French film La Haine

Quotes

JIM HUDSON: I want your eyes, man. I want those things you see through.


Happy Halloween!

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31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #30 – Sinister 2 (2015)

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Director: Ciaran Foy

Writer(s): C. Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Focus Features

Budget: $10m

Box Office: $54.1m

Release Date: 21 August 2015

IMDb Rating: 5.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 13%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

James Ransone – Ex-Deputy So-and-So

Shannyn Sossamon – Courtney Collins

Robert Sloan – Dylan Collins

Dartanian Sloan – Zach Collins

Lea Coco – Clint Collins

Tate Ellington – Dr. Stomberg

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

A young mother and her twins move into a rural house that’s marked for death.

Inertia’s Insight

The Blumhouse machine rarely leaves a film in isolation. If profitable and with scope to expand then a sequel is inevitable, and this was certainly evident as the credits rolled on Sinister, the haunted house film with a twist. Sinister was perfectly executed – beautifully toned, chilling sounds and a cracking performance from Ethan Hawke. Sadly, Sinister 2 falls woefully short of the genius previously witnessed.

Marking the return of Deputy So-and-So, the comic relief from the first film, Sinister 2 attempts to take us further in to the world of Bughuul via more scratchy and grain film (this time shot in 16mm) – but, like Parnormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension it also attempts to show us too much. In Sinister 2 we see the other side from the point of view of the (now dead) children that were once Bughuul’s puppets, and this is where it all falls apart.

The opening sequence of grainy snuff footage is equally as effective as the first film, but jars as soon as we realise that this is only a dream. We meet identical twins Dylan and Zach who live on an isolated farm with their mother Courtney.

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Meanwhile, Deputy-So-and-So is researching the murders connected to Bughuul, burning the homes in an attempt to cease his deadly path of destruction, which leads him to the country home of Courtney and her twin children, on the run from the husband/father that is desperate to assert his authority.

Young Dylan is visited by Bughuul’s past children who force him to watch their previous home movies in order to bring him in to their cult and ultimately enact his own movie. This – this is where the film misses every mark possible. I’d go so far as to say that the make-up looks stage-like, as if it’s an amateur production. They’re obviously dead kids, but their appearance is dreadful, and not in a scary way. Nor is their demeanour – how Dylan can be scared of them God only knows. It’s Bughuul that’s terrifying, and we rarely see him.

There are hints of potential, particularly in the scenes involving the professor who brings more context to Bughuul by way of the ham radio. It’s an exciting concept, one that draws you in to the scene, but all the excitement is left squarely in that scene and not explored to its full potential afterwards.

The subplot involving Courtney’s ex-husband is moving – it serves to both prove their vulnerability to Bughuul but also to bring Deputy-So-and-So into their lives. There’s time given to the characters to allow them to develop, but this becomes unnecessary as the film muddles its way towards a limp finale. It’s a confused, limp and ultimately disappointing sequel that pretty much guaranteed the world of Bughuul would not continue.

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Now don’t get me wrong, for all it’s faults – and there are many – the murder scenes follow the true mantra of horror sequels: up the ante. And boy, do they. The scene with the rats under the buckets is both genius and horrific, aided all the more by that familiar and voyeuristic scratchy 16mm film. This scene alone elevates the film from one star to two star status.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

Trivia

  • An homage to Children of the Corn
  • Sinister 2 uses 16mm film for the snuff films
  • Bughuul translates to ‘Boogeyman’

Quick Quote

MILO: If you tell anyone, we’ll kill you first, and then your whole family, and we’ll watch the film over and over and over.


Tomorrow: Night #31 – Get Out (2017)

31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #29 – Sinister (2012)

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Director: Scott Derrickson

Writer(s): C. Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson

Studio/Distributor: Summit Entertainment/Momentum Pictures

Budget: $3m

Box Office: $77.7m

Release Date: 5 October, 2012

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Ethan Hawke – Ellison Oswalt

Juliet Rylance – Tracy

Fred Dalton Thompson – Sheriff

James Ransone – Deputy

Michael Hall D’Addario – Trevor

Nicholas King – Bughuul

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

Washed up true crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s.

Inertia’s Insight

When the idea for your screenplay is based on your own nightmare, you’re already half way towards a decent horror film. The concept of creating a dreamlike horror led to Sinister, another low budget Blumhouse production that drew A-list talent in Ethan Hawke, in turn drawing audiences to the box office.

From the first frame this film establishes its tone. The long, agonising and horrific opening sequence, shot with super 8 film, is difficult to watch – and these are only the opening moments. The hideous music – if you can call it that – with the scratchy 8mm and soundless, agonising slow death of four people tied to a tree is uneasy to watch. Brutal, mysterious and intriguing from the off.

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True crime writer with the name to match his job, Ellison Oswalt relocates his family to investigate the murder of a family that he thinks will give him his next big story. The local police aren’t happy to have him here and his kids don’t want to be either, but Ellison continues to pursue the truth despite the grim reality he unearths with every new super 8 film he finds.

These super 8 films are what sets this film apart from your standard haunted house/demon after your kids story. They are so genuinely unsettling. The combination of handheld voyeuristic POV perspective, grainy 8mm film and jarring music allow these miniature snuff films to have such a unique effect. With each one they get worse, building to the lawnmower film in which Ethan Hawke’s genuine reaction says everything that we feel about these snuff films.

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But there are also some scary moments outside of these little films. Their son who suffers with night terrors seems to do a pretty good impression of Regan’s spider walk when he emerges from a box, and the scene with the slo-mo ghost kids is brilliant. It provides a fresh new angle on how ghosts move about a house, how they haunt and cause the floorboards to creak. Like a fucked up version of Marco Polo, it sees Ellison driven deeper into the madness that Bughuul brings to the families of his latest victim.

Derrickson perfectly balances the horror with the tension of a damn good thriller. The investigation into the murders builds steadily, with twists and turns unearthing the mystery behind the killings. It works just like a procedural, with the pursuit of the truth driving Ellison further from his family and fracturing their reality. Ethan Hawke is the standout here, not reducing his talents for the genre but rather utilising them to maximum effect.

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The twist is quite fucked up, following the dour tone that the film established from the outset (and revealed via the super 8 films). The ending is so downbeat. Derrickson shoots it with minimal light and long scenes with hardly any cuts. There’s no big reveal or great emphasis on the scene, making the events even harder to watch. Derrickson also plays down the focus on Bughuul (or Mr. Boogie as he’s referred to), instead focussing on him mainly in the super 8 films and drawings on the wall. It’s the right move, allowing the mere reference of him to instill more fear than any sighting of him could. Which is also probably a good job because he looks a bit like Seven from Slipknot…

A truly effective and indeed sinister horror film.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★★★

Trivia

  • Writer C. Robert Cargill got the idea for the script from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring
  • There is very little blood, almost no cursing and no sex, but the film still gained an R-rating
  • The super 8 films were actually filmed using super 8 cameras
  • Ethan Hawke had never seen the super 8 films prior to filming. His initial reactions made it in to the final film

Quotes

ASHLEY: Don’t worry, Daddy. I’ll make you famous again.


Tomorrow: Night #30 – Sinister 2 (2015)

31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #28 – The Bay (2012)

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Director: Barry Levinson

Writer(s): Michael Wallach

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Lionsgate

Budget: $2m

Box Office: $1.6m

Release Date: 2 November 2012

IMDb Rating: 5.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Nansi Aluka – Jacquline

Christopher Denham – Sam

Stephen Kunken – Dr. Abrams

Frank Deal – Mayor Stockman

Kether Donohue – Donna

Kristen Connolly – Stephanie

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.

Inertia’s Insight

Originally conceived as a documentary on the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, veteran Hollywood director Barry Levinson (Good Morning, Vietnam; Rain Man) bring us a unique found footage film that features multiple perspectives of a 4th of July celebration that descends into chaos as a mysterious infection spreads through the quiet town of Claridge, Maryland.

Claridge is your typical American town – all star spangled banners, sun-kissed lakes and apple pie. There’s a big 4th of July celebration going down complete with crab eating contest, the sun is shining and we’re set for what looks like the most American celebration yet. Until shit goes down…

There’s something in the bay, something that seems to be adapting, evolving, and literally eating the flesh of those that are infected. The town’s income is derived predominately from its summer tourism; to supplement this income, there’s a huge fishing and farming community, featuring a gigantic chicken farm that seems to be dumping its metric fuck-tonne of chicken shit into the bay. Despite the Mayor’s reassurances that the water is perfectly safe, it transpires that this water is anything but…

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Our eyes are Donna Thompson, a young and inexperienced news reporter who is in town to report on the 4th of July festivities, and ends up in the middle of the madness as she continues to report whilst the town submits to this deadly disease.

The way in which it descends into chaos is genuinely unsettling, and is only possible thanks to the found footage – it’s grainy, shaky, out of focus and zooming all over the place. The sound, too, benefits from the found footage; it’s scratchy, loud and pierces the speakers. The fact that it’s all going to shit means those filming are struggling to maintain focus, and this means we’re scrambling around the screen to find the nearest sign of danger. The footage of the woman in the front yard sends chills down your spine.

This film works because of the multiple perspectives that we’re given. Though Claridge is only a small town of some 6000 residents, that’s still a potential 6000 stories to tell. The multiple strands work well to build the narrative around just what this parasite is – we’re given the perspective of scientists, doctors and experts to explain it all to us, but we’re also given the real side of the story, as we see the town’s inhabitants affected by this tragedy.

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It’s haunting to see Donna and her cameraman walk around the almost deserted town at night. What should be a thriving town with cheers and celebrations reverberating from every building is instead an almost apocalyptic wasteland, the town scattered with dead bodies. And on that note – it has to be given to Levinson that he knows how to make a horror film. He doesn’t hold back on the grotesque nature of this virus, and the visual effects are stunning. The body next to the fountain is a particularly notable touch.

It stalls somewhat as we gear up towards the finale, but it more than delivers an ending that is devastating and impactful in equal measure. Though it’s lacking in convincing CGI, the scene in which we see what the parasite looks like and the way it makes itself known is gruesome and impressive. It’s kind of hard to swallow just how this massacre managed to stay so cloaked in order for this to be a film about ‘revealing the truth’, but the reason for us seeing this footage isn’t what matters – it’s how Levinson crafts a compelling story from multiple angles, giving us a horror film with a lesson: be careful what you put in the water…

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • Originated as a documentary about the Chesapeake Bay and its pollution, but Levinson didn’t think anyone would watch that so he turned it into a film

Quick Quote

ACTIVIST: There’s forty five million pounds of chicken shit dumped into the bay each year.


Tomorrow: Night #29 – Sinister (2012)

31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #27 – Dark Skies (2013)

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Director: Scott Stewart

Writer(s): Scott Stewart

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Dimension Films

Budget: $3.5m

Box Office: $26.4m

Release Date: 22 February 2013

IMDb Rating: 6.3/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

Keri Russell – Lacy Barrett

Josh Hamilton – Daniel Barrett

Dakota Goyo – Jesse Barrett

Kadan Rockett – Sam Barrett

J.K. Simmons – Edwin Pollard

Rich Hutchman – Mike Jessop

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

As the Barrett family’s peaceful suburban life is rocked by an escalating series of disturbing events, they come to learn that a terrifying and deadly force is after them, one which may have arrived from beyond the stars.

Inertia’s Insight

A rare entry in the Blum archive, Dark Skies looks from the stars to suburbia, as a nuclear family are haunted by an unknown presence that is not of this world…

On the outside, the Barrett’s are the perfect family: happily married Lacy and Daniel are the perfect parents to Jesse and Sammy, with a great house, great group of friends and an all-round great life. But that’s on the surface; underneath, there’s tension. Daniel has been laid off and is trying – and failing – to find a new job. Lacy is struggling as a real estate agent, her conscience too clean to commit to a sale. Young Sammy seemingly has a new invisible friend and Jesse is on the cusp of puberty, his mind solely on the opposite sex. The bills are past due, their relationship is struggling and the kids are catching these vibes, so they’re weak enough for the onslaught that comes…

There’s no denying that writer/director Scott Stewart throws us straight in to the heat of things; though subtle at first, it’s not long before the signs of an otherworldly presence start coming in droves – the intricately displayed kitchen items that broadcast a specific pattern on the ceiling, the triggering of their house alarm, the disappearance of all their photographs, and that continuous high pitched monotonous tone. It’s all done at the right pace, furthering the fractures in the family’s relationship.

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I love the way that Stewart frames his scares. There’s detail in the frame, with the subject shot at medium close-up, leaving plenty for us to scan the screen for. The scene where she walks in to Sammy’s bedroom is perfection, as the shaky handheld camera jolts as much as Lacy when she sees what lurks inside, but the scene where Daniel is stood outside, mouth agape… Reach for the pillow!

Keri Russell is the standout here for me. The genuine sense of compassion she imbues at the start, both for her family and potential clients, immediately draws us in to Lacy. But the way she delivers the scene where she seizes and approaches the glass window… it’s a standout moment that genuinely unnerves.

The events that surround them continue to further alienate (forgive me) the family from the local community and even from each other, as the fractures ripple. It’s a superb idea to isolate the story to the house and to this family; it feels more familiar to us in this way, and effectively fuels Daniel’s paranoia.

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The sequence of events inevitably leads them to the belief that they are being haunted by something not of this planet, and it gifts us a cameo from J.K. Simmons who convinces as a tin foil wearing conspiracy theorist who actually talks some sense. From here we snowball in to a tense and gripping finale that is superbly executed.

The emphasis here is on family. The finale ratchets the tension within the confines of their house but the focus is very much on the family; the unit they form together to save themselves from the impending tragedy. The ending is tragic, heartbreaking and not at all what we expected, truly setting Dark Skies apart from the plethora of modern day interpretations of beings from above. And yes, that includes Independence Day.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • Originally pitched as a found footage film
  • The screenplay was written in just six weeks

Quick Quote

EDWIN POLLARD: People think of aliens as these beings invading our planet in some great cataclysm, destroying monuments, stealing our natural resources. But it’s not like that at all. The invasion already happened.


Tomorrow: Night #28 – The Bay (2012)

31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #26 – The Belko Experiment (2016)

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Director: Greg McLean

Writer(s): James Gunn

Studio/Distributor: BH Tilt/Orion Pictures

Budget: $5m

Box Office: $11.1m

Release Date: 17 March 2017

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

UK Blu Ray release? Yes

Cast

John Gallagher Jr. – Mike Milch

Tony Goldwyn – Barry Norris

Adria Arjona – Leandra Florez

John C. McGinley – Wendell Dukes

Melonie Diaz – Dany Wilkins

Brent Sexton – Vince Agostino

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

In a twisted social experiment, eight Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed.

Inertia’s Insight

From the mind of twisted visionary James Gunn comes The Belko Experiment, a Battle Royale in the workplace that no doubt most of us have dreamt of at one point or another. Greg McLean of Wolf Creek fame directs Gunn’s script, the duo bringing us a bloody, gory and entertaining thrill over 85 minutes of pure madness.

Employees of Belko Industries arrive for another day at work at their offices in Bogota, Colombia. Belko, an American company that facilitates the hiring of American workers for American companies in South America, has your usual mix of office workers: the hot one, the one that doesn’t really care about the job, the office perv, the gossip, the Brit… and the list goes on. Slowly we’re introduced to them as they go about their daily jobs, understanding their roles and relationships, and what potential conflicts there might be.

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We’re barely given time to drink in the characters and their environment before the coldly cool, yet sadistic voice announces the commencement of the office purge. It’s a great way of doing it – drop us, and the characters, straight in to this scenario. It plays out as you expect, with some fearing and some just laughing, but they’re soon given a reason to believe.

Now naturally, we know how this kind of scenario would play out. Regardless of our experience with this kind of film – and there are a lot of them – we know as humans how our fight or flight instinct would kick in. There’s an interesting mix of characters that make the film interesting enough to focus our attention. We already know the divide; who is going to kill and who is going to find a different way, but the ensuing scenes, particular the carnage after the line-up when the lights go out, is an impressive take. The ensuing madness, juxtaposed with soft Spanish interpretation of California Dreamin’ is perfect.

And what follows this is even better. The exploding heads, that look and sound like watermelons, are the most macabre piece of comic relief I’ve seen in a film for a long time. It’s solid Gunn, whose interpretation of the monster B-movie in Slither was pitch perfect, and here he provides a fresh, funny and fucked up telling of the Battle Royale/Hunger Games meets The Office you’re ever likely to see.

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Thankfully, the ending does not disappoint. The final act sees the survivors pitted against each other; the person who has killed the most people gets out alive. Before they were communities divided; now it’s every man for themselves. It shifts the dynamics and ensure a fresh bout of inventive and gory kills that include head twisting, Molotov cocktails and an axe to the face. The scene in particular between Mike and Barry as the Belko recruitment video plays out with corporate glee is genius.

At the back of our minds we’re always wondering just why this is happening, and thankfully the explanation is not brushed under the carpet, nor unacceptable when it’s revealed. The HR-style questioning that Mike is subject to in his “debrief” is hilarious, but also darkly familiar. We’re also given a hint of something much bigger, with several untold stories shown to us at the end. A true gem from Gunn who, now absent from the Marvel Universe, might just make a much-needed return to horror to bring us this anticipated sequel.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • Michael Rooker’s fourth film with James Gunn
  • John Gallagher Jr. auditioned for another film but Gunn thought he would be perfect for this

Quick Quote

THE VOICE: In two minutes we want thirty of you dead. If thirty of you are not dead, we will end sixty of your lives ourselves. Five, four, three, two, one – begin.


Tomorrow: Night #27 – Dark Skies (2013)

31 Fright Nights: Halloween 2018, Night #25 – The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

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Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Writer(s): Robert Aguirre-Sacasa

Studio/Distributor: Blumhouse/Orion Pictures

Budget: Unknown

Box Office: Unknown

Release Date: 26 October 2014

IMDb Rating: 5.6/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

UK Blu Ray release? DVD only

Cast

Addison Timlin – Jami

Veronica Cartwright – Lillian

Anthony Anderson – Lon Wolf Morales

Travis Tope – Nick

Joshua Leonard – Deputy Foster

Andy Abele – Sackhead

Trailer

Plot According to IMDb

65 years after a masked serial killer terrorised the small town of Texarkana, the so-called ‘moonlight murders’ begin again. Is it a copycat or something more sinister?

Inertia’s Insight

Dubbed a meta-sequel to the 1976 film of the same name, The Town That Dreaded Sundown finds a young teenage girl the sole survivor of an attack from The Phantom, a sack-masked killer that echoes the Zodiac Killer in his approach to his victims.

Forced into her position as investigative survivor by this masked maniac, Jami Lerner delves in to the world of The Phantom, in both present, past and film form, to understand why he has returned and why he is “doing it for Mary”.

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It’s this investigative aspect of the film that sets it apart from your modern day slasher films – though we’re still gifted plenty of gore and inventive kills, we’re also expected to concentrate on the scenes in between those kills, which is a feat this film manages to achieve. That said, death via trombone leaves much to chuckle about long after that scene has finished.

Addison Timlin is endearing as Jami – beautiful, reserved and seriously strong, Jami overcomes obstacles that no teenage girl should have to face.

The film imbues that sense of small town America, not only with the community that come together in the face of such difficult times, screaming at the authorities at a town hall meeting or being preached to by the popular pastor, we’re also given long shots of the small buildings and wide roads that make up the bread and butter of the town.

It’s also very retro; the film references the fact that the events, and the subsequent ‘film’ that was made, are a product of the 1970’s but the modern day that we focus on also emits that era’s qualities – the clothes, the cars, the haircuts are all very retro and are juxtaposed with the modern technology and music that the characters interact with. It works along the same lines as It Follows.

It stalls in the middle somewhat as the investigation leads Jami and Nick – an old school alum of Jami’s that assists her with her investigation and grows close to her despite Jami’s hesitancy – to discover that the director of the film ‘inspired by true events’ is still alive, leading them on a new path that brings them face to face with the killer.

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There’s echoes of Scream in the ending, though I won’t reveal too much detail. It’s a bloody, brutal and heart-breaking ending that, though disappointing, also makes perfect sense.

A film about a film within a film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown enjoys its position as a meta-sequel, dancing between fact and fiction at just the right pace to keep us on our toes in true whodunnit fashion. Though the ending disappoints slightly, it’s a taut and dark slasher film that wears its heart very bloodily on its sleeve.

Inertia’s Ideal Score ( out of 5)

★★

Trivia

  • Loose remake of the 1976 film of the same name
  • Denis O’Hare also voices the narration at the start of the film

Quick Quote

QUOTE: In the spring of 1946, in the small town of Texarkana, on the Texas/Arkansas border, a series of horrific murders were committed by a masked assailant known only as the phantom killer. For three harrowing months, the phantom stalked the back roads of Texarkana following young couples looking for privacy to isolated areas where their screams for help would go unanswered. Though several arrests were made in connection to the brutal slayings which ended as suddenly as they began, the killer’s identify was never confirmed. Indeed many people who lived through that nightmare time believe the phantom spend the rest of his days free, walking the streets of Texarkana quietly, anonymously, until his assumed death in 1976 a film inspired by the infamous Moonlight Murders was released. Every year on Halloween “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” is screened somewhere in Texarkana, in tribute to the Phantom’s legacy of death and blood. Today, Texarkana is a place haunted by its past, defined by a mystery that was never solved, and a tragedy that could never be forgotten. The following happened in Texarkana last year.


Tomorrow: Night #26 – The Belko Experiment (2016)