The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) review

>The original Town That Dreaded Sundown is an underrated horror film from 1976. It does everything right that a slasher film should do. OK, the jokey tones doesn’t sit particularly well in within the main theme. But as a horror film it’s a damn fine effort that constantly gets overlooked. So making a new version of a film not many people have seen is a big task. But this is no reboot/re-imagining/remake; instead, The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014 uses the original 1976 film as a really interesting element that weaves its way into this new version.

When the killings start again in the small town of Texarkana after nearly 65 years of silence, the townsfolk wonder if the "moonlight murders" have resumed. Or is it a copycat? Or something more sinister? The police use the original movie to try to predict the next moves of the phantom. But actually it could be a lonely high-school girl who has the key to catching him.

The use of the original movie here plays nicely for anyone who has not seen it; they don’t recap but rather add in brief snippets of the ’76 film at the same time as its happening in this version. The filmmakers are clearly paying homage to Carven and Cunningham’s work in the Scream movies as a lot of the time it does bear the same resemblances during these self referencing scenes. But it’s fun and different and it feels fresh in a genre that needs a new leading light. There is enough atmospheric fear during the entire film that it keeps a firm grip on proceedings even when the mood is lightened by some joviality, the cops watching the original film and making stupid comments is just one highlight or several. The killings, while gruesome, are nowhere need the torture porn area and they don’t actually need to be. These deaths are slasher movie enjoyable; there is even a unique use of a trombone for one death. The kill count isn’t huge either which is a testament to the film makers of sticking to the original “true story” plan and not injecting numerous other false kills to ramp up the gore. Proof positive that minimal deaths can still create a great horror movie.

A respectable cast, more you’ll know from face rather name, all ham it up in such an enjoyable way that it fits nicely into the trappings of the film. Addison Timlin brings enough to the lead character to make you root for her. She isn’t a scream queen, but she gives body to a person being mentally tortured by what she may know. The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014 almost entirely goes Meta on itself; it’s a thrilling piece of work in how they have pulled it off so well. It’s about time we had an entertaining slasher flick again and I think we have just found it.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown at IMDb

Mark Searby is a Screenjabber contributor

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