Writer: Robeto Aguirre-Sacasa, Earl E Smith (Screenplay)
Starring: Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Anthony Anderson, Travis Tope, Joshua Leonard, Andy Abele, Gary Cole
Plot: 65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called ‘moonlight murders’ begin again. Is it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him.
Runtime: 1 Hour 26 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Slasher 101
Story: The Town That Dreaded Sundown starts when Jami (Timlin) and her boyfriend Corey (Clark) are attending the drive-in-movie-theatre showing the movie based on the real murders set in Texarkana 65-years-ago, moving to lover’s lane the killer known as The Phantom catches them, murdering Corey, leaving Jami with a message and the town is thrown back into fear again.
When the Phantom strikes again, he leaves Jami with a warning that he stop until she gives up her own secret, with the town bringing in the Texas Rangers Lone Wolf Morales (Anderson) to hunt down the before more people are murdered, is this the original killer returning or a copycat.
Thoughts on The Town That Dreaded Sundown
Characters – Jami breaks the mould of the final girl, she is a survivor of the first attack being left with a message of trying to find Mary. Jami starts looking into the history of the town going in search of what happened 65 years ago, needing to decide about her own future in the town or going off to college. Jami isn’t a teenager that is going to be running, she is almost like the messenger for the killer. Lillian is the grandmother of Jami, she has raised her after her parent’s death, she wants what is best for her even though she might know something about the past. Lone Wolf Morales is a Texas Ranger that has come to the town in search of the answers, he has taken complete control of the investigation and will listen to any story which might uncover the truth about what is happening. Nick is the former classmate of Jami’s he works in the achieves where he helps Jami learn about the history of the town becoming a new love interest for her.
Performances – Addison Timlin in the leading role makes for a great scream figure, while not just looking like a victim. Anthony Anderson does seem to bring a little bit of humour to the film, while the rest of the cast don’t put a foot wrong.
Story – The story here follows a town which suffered from a serial killer spree 65-years ago, a film which bought back the memories and now a new killer has arrived killing mindlessly through town. This story might follow elements of the traditional stalker killer, which for the most part is an easy watch, when it jumps out to the next level of being a meta sequel, while also taking the story in a new direction, we get a nice mix of the three, with the idea that this is based on an unsolved murder spree, a reality check on a film that is about those murders and a potential copycat or supernatural killer, we are kept guessing. The story however is filled with weaknesses because we did get hints of people that would have been involved and they just seem to drop the potential of us having suspects, while the killer reveal is also largely disappointing by the end. This story does make us feel like we are watching a more serious version of Scream with how the world is created around us.
Horror/Mystery – The horror is a blood soaked slasher style, we get plenty of rules being broken for that genre too, with Jami not being killed in the opening attack, we also get to see how the killer isn’t slow and is predatory at times, with the mystery being around who the killer could be and why they have targeted certain people through the film.
Settings – The film is set in a small town on the border of two states, this means we get the police arguing over who should lead the case, as well as being in a place with a history of a serial killer.
Special Effects – When it comes to the effects, we know we are going to get plenty of blood with the kills that aren’t as bloody as they could have been, but show the brutality of the kill.
Scene of the Movie – The aerial field shot.
Final Thoughts – This is a slasher that is a joy to watch because it turns the rules of the genre on its head, even if the final reveal is the weak point of the film.
Overall: Slasher to Admire.