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The Town That Dreaded Sundown: Re-imagining More of the Same

February 8, 2015


The Town That Dreaded Sundown could have been a contender. However, it falls into the stock slasher tropes and falls apart at the end. The director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon stated that there is a 15 minute longer cut and many of the meta-textual flourishes were dropped in honor of keeping the status quo (kill, kill, nudity, kill). Thus, we get an oft entertaining film that feels supremely weird and more of the same.

What I appreciate about the meta-sequel is that it stands above the recent horror remakes by attempting something different. The remakes went the boring prequel route (The Thing, Halloween) or simply rehashed the violent proceedings (Black Christmas, House of Wax). They offered nothing to the genre aside from a cute scream queen or impressive decapitation. The Town That Dreaded Sundown strives for meta uniqueness and goes down swinging in an attempt.

I like how the plot is about a town that experienced horrific murders and is constantly reminded of it because of the creation of a cult classic film. They can’t seem to shake the killings and the town is stuck in a 1970’s stasis. As the masked killer starts recreating the famous deaths it forces old memories to be dredged up. Through these murders we are introduced to characters who give the film some personality. Anthony Anderson, Gary Cole, Denis O’Hare, Ed Lauter and Edward Hermann elevate the material as various police chiefs, pastors and museum owners who feel like they totally belong in a horror film.

Anthony Anderson

The lead heroine Jami (Addison Timlin) is a resourceful and nice person who has been dealt an amazingly bad hand. We first meet her at the drive-in where she and her date are watching the 1976 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown. She isn’t a fan so her surprisingly nice date agrees to leave so they can drive down a dark road and engage in some impromptu smooching. As things start heating up a masked killer shows up and kills her date and leaves her alive to warn the town. However, Jami’s parents died when she was little and this left her in troubled sedated state which means her warning are not heeded.

Addison Timlin horror movie

Jami starts looking for a pattern into the killings and the film falls into familiar territory from there.   She correctly pegs the “phantom” but that can’t stop characters from engaging in behavior only seen in horror films. I will say that the characters who meet their end at least die while making logical steps to escape. It is a breath of fresh horror air watching people being unluckily dead instead of dumb dead.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown attempted something new and that is why I watched it. Addison Timlin continues to impress and if you get a chance check out Odd Thomas on Netflix. In a day age of crap horror remakes it is nice when something stands out.

Watch the film. Dread sundown. Don’t make decisions only found in horror movies.

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