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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.61%
Worth A Look38.78%
Average: 18.37%
Pretty Bad: 2.04%
Total Crap: 10.2%

3 reviews, 31 user ratings

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by Chris Parry

"What smells like rotting meat and will gut you with power tools?"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL: No great film festival should be without a slate of midnight movies to keep the rowdies happy, and South By Southwest has a long history of providing midnight movies that go on to great things. Who could forget last year’s Cabin Fever, or High Tension, or The Grudge (the original version, not the Buffy-fan edition), and you have to think that the recent revival in the genre has been massively assisted by the growth of the film festival horror scene. Reeker, the latest feature outing from former Roger Corman intern, David Payne, is a decent (if unremarkable) addition to the mix, mixing a little Cabin Fever with a spattering of Identity, and perhaps a little Twilight Zone tossed into the fray. Hey, you could do worse…

A group of five college kids (hmm, where have I heard that opening before?) are headed down a desert road on their way to the rave of the year. As they stop by the side of the road, the earth around them shakes hard, and before too long, they find themselves at a deserted highway motel with a Black and Decker-powered, skunk-smelling crazy man on the loose.

As far as horror movies go, Reeker doesn’t make you wait long for the first splatter scene, gruesomely butchering a family of three and a dog within the first two minutes of the film. The splatter continues pretty consistently from that point on, with plenty of the usual fake scares mixed in with some edgy humor, a couple of great visual gags, and just enough off-screen spookiness to keep things from getting too obvious. Director Payne understands the intricacies of horror well, as many of the real scares in the flick come from subtlety rather than a sledgehammer. A figure disappearing in a distant window, a hand coming out from a place you don’t expect (and grabbing a part of the body not usually grabbed in polite company), plenty of expectation, and some solid scare timing make the flick tick in a way that sets it far above the usual PG-13 shinola like Cursed or Boogeyman. All the usual horror conventions are present, and all the same old “no, don’t do that” moments are there, but there is a certain newness to the way Payne puts it all together that gives the proceedings a tongue in cheek feel. Sure, he’s using clichés, but he’s using them in slightly new ways that at least indicate some thought went into the thing.

At no point does Reeker attempt to rewrite the horror handbook, and it never falls into the weak ‘spoof’ territory that seems to be the last bastion of the screenwriter with no actual original ideas, but it does manage to consistently entertain, without ever being truly horrific simply for the sake of being horrific. The film is paced exactly right, but it should be said that the reliance on a twist ending makes much of the rest of the film a somewhat uneven affair. I managed to see the twist coming, but then I have immersed myself in Twilight Zone episodes for most of my adult life, so I can usually smell one of these things coming a mile away (no pun intended).

The cast is above average for this kind of affair, with Scott Whyte, Tina Illman, Derek Richardson, Arielle Kebbell, and Devon Gummersall rounding out the highlights, even to the point where you don’t necessarily want them killed (a rare thing for me – I’m usually yelling for the jock’s death within the first minute of any horror film). The camerawork is polished, the production values high, the audience sufficiently kicked about, and the blood and guts ever-present. All in all, a pretty darn good effort, and one that would grab an extra half star from me if our system allowed such things. But it doesn't. Deal.

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originally posted: 03/14/05 20:42:21
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 BendFilm Festival For more in the 2005 BendFilm Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival For more in the 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/01/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
5/11/08 Mic Stupid story, Nice blonde though 1 stars
10/15/07 William Goss Peculiar villain can't make up for common cop-out ending and sheer monotony. 3 stars
9/10/07 Dan Saw it on Sky, total rubbish 1 stars
9/09/07 steffi Nice suspense, gore but storyline unoriginal. Will never use outside loos :P 4 stars
9/03/07 casey great movie and great storyline, it matches perfectly with the car acciednet 4 stars
7/17/07 john The people who complain abou the ending are morons. 4 stars
2/07/07 pete.chesworth The FX was excellent but what happened to the storyline 3 stars
1/01/07 Tabitha Amazing and full of spine chilling thrills! 5 stars
10/02/06 cellardoor my god what a poor movie, not the worst i've ever seen but it's just bad. 1 stars
9/29/06 Rob Fied This is a great film a real ribirth of the classic 80's horro genre with a twist 5 stars
8/28/06 Barry Norman Save rental fee, give it to charity, utter shite 1 stars
7/31/06 Soeren It is quite likely the worst cast I have ever seen. 1 stars
7/02/06 chris f totally awesome well worth watching and owning on dvd! 5 stars
6/04/06 Renegades One of the best horror films I have seen in years 5 stars
3/25/06 Alice like all others, nothing new 2 stars
8/09/05 David Goldblum Great film more than I expexcted 5 stars
7/26/05 Colin M. Finally. A smart, violent, sexy, funny, monster flick. 5 stars
6/25/05 Rory the Butcher Scary as hell. The Reeker is cool. 4 stars
5/16/05 thehitman very good stuff... 5 stars
4/17/05 Don Larson A very good horror movie. M. Ironside and S. Whyte did a great job. 5 stars
3/31/05 Jennifer Borders A must see! 5 stars
3/24/05 TomThumb2 Why aren't more horror movies this good? 5 stars
3/24/05 monnilove had you on the edge , great movie 3 stars
3/22/05 Laz Scary stuff. Good CGI. 4 stars
3/22/05 Cheri Howell I loved every minute of this movie! Dave Payne has made the funniest horror movie ever! 4 stars
3/18/05 Ron Apt Awesome !!! 5 stars
3/18/05 Tommy Bradley Reeker is a fresh take on the horror genre. I really, really liked it. 5 stars
3/18/05 lance the humor is dark and the scares work! my kind of flick! 5 stars
3/17/05 Don Parks Its a great movie. It has alot of good scenes and the acting is really believeable. 5 stars
3/16/05 Marc Gruesome, but cinematically a blast. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
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Directed by
  Dave Payne

Written by
  Dave Payne

  Eric Mabius
  Scott Whyte
  Tina Illman
  Arielle Kebbel
  Devon Gummersall
  Michael Ironside

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