Wednesday, July 29, 2015

In short: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014)

Despite looking like a generic slasher movie, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s The Town That Dreaded Sundown is something rather more peculiar. It’s not really a remake of Charles B. Pierce’s – also peculiar – regional horror classic but more a sequel to the actual murders that film was based on, with Pierce’s original existing in its world and building the base of the copycat murder series (or is it?) this film’s about. Rejoice fans of musical instrument based killing, because that’s in here too.

Anyway, Sundown ‘14 doesn’t go for the whole pseudo documentary angle of the original film, instead in turns opting for generally dreamlike and unreal atmosphere, made of the kind of Americana David Lynch is so fond of as the surface to his abysses, humour I could have lived without, a bit of metafictional business that doesn’t lead anywhere, and a directing style that is pretty much the opposite of Pierce’s, generally choosing conscious strangeness and the crass whenever possible. The murders here a bit slasher-ed up, with the face-sack-wearing killer walking through a lot of windows, and murder scenes staged in ways a death by trombone doesn’t seem particularly outré anymore.

As might already be obvious, I’m not completely sure what to make of the film. On one hand, I’m happy Sundown ‘14 attempts to get into a dialogue with the film it is remaking, and doesn’t just turn it into a standard slasher. On the other hand, I’m not sure where the film is actually going instead: there are moments of satire, the metafictional parts seem rather pointless, there’s a bit of a coming of age story of our heroine Jami (Addison Timlin in a pretty fine performance), there’s comic book violence, all adding up to a film that is certainly peculiar and not just a film made by the numbers. Unfortunately I’m not too sure these things really add up to anything in particular, and while I – as a friend of all films peculiar – had an interesting time letting all this wash over me (sometimes even sucking me in with elements like Timlin’s performance or the very pretty photography), it’s all very meandering and not looking to have any point it wants to get to. Then there’s the “oh what the hell, let’s just have an ending” Scream style final twist that not only makes little sense but also feels even more disconnected from everything else going on. So, to be perfectly honest, I really don’t know, and I’m not so fond of the film’s style of strangeness I’ll be digging into it any further.

No comments: