Don’t Call This A Comeback…
For the small border town of Texarkana, the brutal moonlight murders of the late 1940s were nothing more than tales of a bogeyman buried in time – buried deep until the original film dragged up the past. Now the killings have begun again and a new masked terror is forcing Texarkana to pay for its sins and learn to dread sundown all over again…
1. Self-referential literary device which poses questions about the relationship between fiction and reality.
Wrongly mooted by some as a rehash of the little known 1976 original for modern audiences, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an intelligent sequel that takes its cues from Scream and Zodiac over the vacuous trash churned out by the likes of Platinum Dunes. This time around, the story is rooted squarely in a reality where Charles B. Pierce’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown also exists and the youth of Texarkana relive this terrible time in the town’s history at drive-in theatres and picture houses every October 31st. If you liked Stab – Scream’s self-referential film within a film – then you’ll appreciate ‘Town for the murderous events actually happened here.
Produced by the might of Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, Sinister), the real world mystery of the moonlight murders allows the line between fiction and reality to be blurred from the outset of ‘Town to decent effect. From the outset a chilling monotone declares “…the following happened in Texarkana last year…” leaving you to question is this a copy cat killer? Maybe someone with a link to the past? Possibly a lunatic taking inspiration from the original movie? Is this even a film or a retelling of actual events??
I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this sequel to ‘Town, a film that ought to be held in higher regard but is certainly not without its faults. Clearly influenced by the likes of Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s attempt at a modern horror sequel with a brain garners a similar result – the jump scares pack a punch (or a decapitated head), the sinister sack clothed serial killer is effectively creepy a second time around, the synth soundtrack is reminiscent of Halloween, the fashions and cars maintain a familiar classic 70’s tone and the obvious cheap trick of attempting to unmask the original phantom killer and diluting the entire legacy is gleefully avoided.
The positives do outweigh the negatives but Gomez-Rejon’s constant (and I do mean constant) use of behind the retina POVs and deep focus lose their novelty almost immediately, some victims clock an underwhelming total screen time of one minute six seconds, the killer apparently communicates via email (?) and for a horror film blessed with some intelligence it still feels the need to check off horror by numbers – lovers lane, curfew, corn field, scarecrows etc.
Although not essential, your viewing of ‘Town will be infinitely enhanced as the second half of a double bill with the original and it is important to remember you are not watching a remake. This is a story of legacy and a town paying for its sins. A story of the impact on victims and suspects alike. And right to the bitter end, how a shadow will always prowl the streets of Texarkana after sundown.
Read Charles Grady’s review of Charles B. Pierce’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown by clicking the link!