Reeker Review

In the low-budget American horror movie Reeker, five college kids set off on a road trip through the desert to a big rave. The kids, who may as well have been imported from an early eighties Friday The 13th sequel, are Gretchen the tough chick (Tina Payne), Trip the asshole (Scott Whyte), Cookie the blonde bimbo (Arielle Kebbel), Nelson the laid-back DJ (Derek Richardson) and Jack the sensitive blind guy (Devon Gummersall).

When Trip turns out to be not just an asshole but a drug-dealing asshole, Gretchen decides to drop him at the nearest diner. That's when things start getting weird. The diner is deserted but there's food on the tables. Some of the kids start seeing visions of mutilated people and animals. A middle-aged man (Michael Ironside) shows up in an RV, looking for his wife. Out of petrol, the kids are stranded there - are they alone or is there something malevolent stalking them?

Reeker's plot has possibilities - you can imagine Stephen King or Dean Koontz making something interesting out of it - but writer-director David Payne sets his sights low. This is just another teen slasher movie in the tradition of Final Destination and Jeepers Creepers in which the kids are picked off one by one by a supernatural killer: a hooded creature that fades in and out like a bad TV picture and is preceded by a horrible smell (hence the title). For some reason, the smell is visually represented by a shimmering heat haze.

The killer incidentally is silly-looking and doesn't make much sense. When we learn its true nature, ask yourself why does it wear a gas mask and why does it need such bizarre, electrical weaponry? It wears a gauntlet with interchangeable blades (saw, drill, egg whisk). When it takes one off and puts on a new one, it's hard not to think of Inspector Gadget.

Even as a slasher movie, Reeker isn't much cop. Slasher movies can be fun on a certain level but this one isn't scary, the killings are unimaginative - people get dragged screaming under beds or into toilets! - the gore is tame by today's standards and the make-up effects are poor. While there are a few nice moments of deadpan humour, there's nothing like the outrageous black comedy of Final Destination 3.

Since David Payne used to direct made-for-cable exploitation pictures with titles like Alien Terminator and Showgirl Murders, you'd think he might have had a bit more fun with this, his theatrical debut. He could at least have had the cute, blonde girl take her top off. Doesn't he know why cute, blonde girls are cast in slasher movies?

The last straw is the twist ending which, god help us, we're supposed to think is clever. Except anyone who follows horror and fantasy cinema will see it coming a mile off because it's already been used three times since 2001 - in two horror films nearly identical to this and one pretentious pseudo-art film. Can it be retired now please and can somebody think up a new twist?



out of 10

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