The Reeker Review
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Plot:When a lonely highway is inexplicably closed, five students sharing a ride to a desert rave find themselves trapped at a recently deserted travel oasis. Refusing to let the new circumstances interfere with their fun, they settle in only to be interrupted by odd, haunting visions of severely mutilated travelers. The gruesome sightings may explain the sudden abandonment of the motel and diner, but the appearance of a retiree with a missing wife confirms their worst fears. He too has seen the dying people they were victims of a killer, one that has likely taken his wife a killer trailing a dark force of decay and rot. Led by a blind grad student with heightened senses, they must survive the night and confront what appears to be a terrifying abyss between the living and the dead. As the body count rises, the bizarre mystery deepens. Those strong enough to survive are left to answer the burning question, what exactly is The Reeker?
My Thoughts: Would've been better if it were more thurough.
Review:I've been looking forward to seeing Dave Payne's "The Reeker" for awhile now, and finally got a chance to do so recently. So was I disappointed? Well...it depends on your definition of disappointed. If you mean disappointed by the fact that the film sucked to high heaven..then no. If you mean disappointed in the sense of much didn't make sense about it, and it leaves the viewer with a whole bunch of wtf's?? and Random theories, then yes I was. The story takes place over the course of a few hours basically and involves a group of kids headed to a desert rave (not sure why anyone would throw a rave in the desert but okay). Anyhow, trouble doesn't take long to follow the kids when one of them rips off an X dealer who soon takes it upon himself to pursue the kids who by this time are full on their way to the rave. But when the thief among them flashes his stolen box of X, it prompts Tina Illman's character Gretchen to lay down an ultimatum, either dump the drugs or she dumps him. Gretchen however shows some leniency by driving him back to a diner they stopped at earlier, which mysteriously is now empty. To make matters worse, the car is out of gas (horror movie cliche number 1000 to keep the characters stranded in a dangeorus place), and so upon seeking out gas the group begins encountering strange events. Specifically, a horrible odor followed by a gruesome death. I somehow thought this film was trying to use that old metaphor, "The rotten smell of death" to further it's storyline. However it doesn't really go anywhere with anything. It plays out as a weird slasher movie where people missing limbs are talking, and crawling around on their own, and some are even disfigured. But where "Reeker" goes wrong is it plays around with it's mystery factor for too long. The characters deaths are way too similar to so many other previously released horror films. There's no surprises in the order, the stoner kid, the good looking blonde, the jerk, they all die in the same order you would expect, leaving the intelligent lead female character and the blind dude with a heart of gold as the last two left to fight off the monster. Add to that these characters aren't the least bit interesting, and while Payne who wrote and directed the film tries to toss in a bit of diversity with the characters by having veteran Michael Ironside show up as a guy looking for his missing wife, there's really a lack of depth and overall likeability factor to most of the characters in this film. Except for the blind guy, who isn't it obvious? Because you can't make the blind guy an ass like the other dudes in the film, it would simply challenge every horror movie rule and cliche in existence. Which is exactly what I was hoping this film would do. However, the only instance it suceeded in doing so in was with the monster itself...the reeker. Which is a gross rigamortis stricken fella with a drill for a hand which he uses to pick off the teens one by one. The reason why he is so difficult to avoid is because he travels through the air as a foul odor which has a vomit inducing effect on anyone who inhales it. I thought this specifically was a clever addition to the villain character. Everyone get's pissed when the people in these films don't run when they should, but how can you run from something that you can't see and that affects your behavior to the point where you're too busy hurling and coughing to even try to? There's also some really classic bits of dialogue in this film, including a memorable little bit where as things begin to wind down, the blind character reminds his friend who's sporting a missing hand, that the situation isn't as bad because he can still see. To which the handless character responds with "Well atleast you can still Jack-off". This back and forth is then followed up by even more comedic dialogue, pretty good stuff I must say. Payne certainly does succeed in creating a very gross, interesting, and sinister looking villain, along with some likeable dialogue for his characters..but he fails to surround those things with anything else worthwhile in regards to the characters. However, looking past all of that "The Reeker" up until the "twist" ending is a fun watch for a first time viewer..simply because of the desert/roadside diner-ish setting which enhances the films ominous tone, and trying to figure out what exactly the hell is going on and why is also half the fun.
Pros:Nice setting which worked well with the tone of the movie, interesting monster, some good bits of dialogue.
Cons:A disjointed storyline, a twist ending which has the opposite effect the director was going for, and not very well written characters.
Overall:Likeable the first time around because of the monster and the fun of trying to figure out ahead of the movie what exactly is happening. Payne's film certainly does play into a lot of horror film stereotypes, but most of them are forgiveable. Worth a watch.
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