Sunday, 9 August 2015

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Now here’s something that’s not bad at all. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s version of Charles B Pierce’s 1976 docu-slasher arrives on UK DVD (but not Blu-ray for some inexplicable reason) courtesy of Metrodome.

It’s 2013 and a masked killer is terrorising the town of Texarkana, committing murders in the style of the 1976 film THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, which in itself was loosely based on a series of killings in that area in 1946. When Jami (Addison Timlin) is witness to the death of her boyfriend Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) it seems as if the killer has singled her out for a special reason: to make the town remember someone the killer identifies only as Mary. As the deaths continue and Jami digs deeper into the history of the town, and the original killings, it seems everything might actually be connected.

A brave and ambitious attempt at something a bit more metatextual than your average run-of-the-mill remake, the new version of TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN gets so many things right that when things go wrong you actually end up feeling sorry for it. The murders are genuinely terrifying and, on at least one occasion, oddly beautiful. The film is set on and after Halloween, and Gomez-Rejon imbues the town with a delicious autumnal quality that somehow feels very 1970s despite the contemporary setting. 

There’s also a vaguely Lynchian quality to the visuals as well. Every television set in town seems to be playing the original film endlessly, and snippets from that movie are interspersed into the film we are watching from time to time. There are some great locations, including a murder in a cornfield and a double killing in what looks like a graveyard for enormous old signs. 

THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN is not a perfect film, however. Be warned that the ending is a bit giallo-type bonkers, and way out of step with everything that has gone before. In fact it virtually screams producer interference although I have no idea if that is actually the case. The other problem is the interplay between the two young leads, who sadly don’t spark off each other in the way that, for example, Johnny Depp & Heather Langenkamp did in the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. It’s a shame because if these scenes were a little more lively, the TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN remake could have been up there with the best of them. It’s still very much worth your time, though.
Metrodome’s DVD comes with 2.0 and 5.1 stereo surround options. Extras consist of a considerable number of interviews with cast and crew, including star Timlin, producer Jason Blum and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. 

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's remake of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN is released on Region 2 DVD on 17th August 2015

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