The Town That Dreaded Sundown
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Produced by Ryan Murphy
NO killer reveal spoilers ahead
The Town That Dreaded Sundown is loosely based upon the original film of the same name released in 1976 which is loosely based around actual events. This updated version actually puts a new spin on remakes, which I quite enjoyed. Rather than just rehashing the same characters, plot, and scenes of the original film, Gomez-Rejon's modern day version weaves the existence of the original film into the 2014 version as a catalyst for a new string of murders. I was slightly hesitant about this film, seeing as it's produced by Ryan Murphy, better known for Glee and American Horror Story fame. Murphy's work is questionable - Glee started off great and went downhill very quickly and American Horror Story is teetering on the edge, especially after the disaster that was the most recent season "Freak Show."
I digress. 'Sundown' is based in a town on the border of Texas and Arkansas, aptly named Texarkana. In 1946, there was a string of horrific murders over the course of three months committed by someone known only as the 'Phantom Killer', who would follow young couples into isolated areas to murder them. In reality, the killer's identity was never discovered, but the movie has a slightly different take on it. I also have to disclose that I have not seen the original 1976 version of the film, so I cannot give a comprehensive view of how both films bounce off of each other, but I will do my best based solely on the 2014 version. Every year in Texarkana, the original film is screened at the drive-in on Halloween night (this actually happens in real life) and this is where our 2014 movie begins.
Anyway, Jami does some research in the archives and makes a little boyfriend out of one of the workers there and receives a creepy Zodiac-esque manifesto but through email rather than news bulletins, since this is 2014 and all. The police aren't very receptive to her concerns, so Jami decides to take matters into her own hands. She and her boyfriend, Nick, go visit the son of the director of the original film, Chuck Pierce Jr. and he tells them the story of a man, Hank McCreedy, a victim of the Phantom Killer whose body was found on the train tracks cut up into pieces. We discover Mary was Hank's pregnant wife and Pierce thinks the new Phantom Killer may be the grandson of the McCreedys, angry that his grandfather's death is not remembered and honored by the town of Texarkana. After a few more deaths in the town, Jami's grandma freaks out and says she and Jami are going to move to California to get away from it all.
The remake of The Town that Dreaded Sundown received overall favorable reviews on Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes, but here I come to be a Debbie Downer. I didn't really like it. I didn't really hate it. I'm basically indifferent about it for a few main reasons. The movie, excluding credits, was only an hour and twenty minutes long and although it seemed to go by fast, it also felt like the entire storyline just dragged on with rare spurts of excitement that were here and gone far too soon. The murder scenes were unique and gory but extremely quick and over in a flash before you could truly feel any build of anticipation. There were no surprise death scenes - every one was lined up and predictable. Essentially anytime you saw two people together that were in any various stage of undress or intimacy, you immediately knew they were going to die, the man first followed by the woman.
But it does get ten points for killing someone with a knife attached to a trombone. Really, that's pretty epic.