Monday, August 29, 2016

I Smell a Sequel

When you watch as many horror movies as I do, it's sometimes hard to decipher one from the other. When I found an interestingly premised little flick on HBO Go, I had no reason not to give it a shot. When its title card revealed it to be a sequel or prequel or cousin to a movie I knew I had seen but had no memory of, I knew, well, that I just watch too many movies.

Reeker, a slick little direct-to-DVD-before-we-said-direct-to-streaming genre movie, was something I KNEW I had seen a few years earlier. Had I rented it on Netflix? Randomly checked it out from the library? It wouldn't have aired on any channel that I watch. I hadn't reviewed it, which meant it may have been consumed by me pre-DeadlyDollsHouse era.

Was there even such a time?

Anyway, at one point in my life before 2007, I watched David Payne's Reeker. I remember that it had a twist ending, one that worked well enough but has since been done to death. I also remember that it was called "Reeker."

That's enough background to venture into the sequel, right?

Quick Plot: Back in the '70s, a rather unqualified desert police officer caught a sadistic serial killer who was sent to the gas chamber. Now, said unqualified desert police officer is passing his sheriff's badge over to his equally unqualified son at an isolated truck stop diner, where some very bad things are about to happen.

Also at the diner is a trio of bank robbers willing to take hostages to find safety, a bitter waitress because according to the rules of cinema, all are, and a doctor who will undoubtedly have her work cut out for her, especially once the smelly spirit of the aforementioned murderer descends upon the outpost to kill, resurrect, and kill again.

The setup, as you may deduce, is fairly standard. Where No Man's Land stands out is how it combines over-the-top gore with an oddball sense of black humor. One almost has to wonder if writer/director Payne looked at his iffy CGI, shrugged his shoulders, and said something to the effect of, "Well, we can't NOT talk about this." It certainly gives No Man's Land a touch of uniqueness. This isn't an Evil Dead 2 laugh-out-loud visual jokefest, but the film toes an interesting line in balancing its horror with some self-aware chuckles.

That's not to say that No Man's Land is great or even, well, that good, but it has its own personality. In the wake of assembly line low budget horror, it's not always that easy to distinguish yourself (as evidenced by my non-remembrance of Reeker).

High Points
The opening scene has a rather great and shocking twist that sets a promising tone right out of the gate

Low Points

If only I found any of the characters interesting enough to care

Lessons Learned, Nevada Police Academy StyleEven when you're nervous, it's best to avoid dropping your gun right in front of a homicidal lunatic before running away

The physics of explosions are beyond mere cop comprehension

When confronted with the supernatural, why not just drink? (and no, "wearing the sheriff's badge" is not actually the answer to this question)

No Man's Land has a certain kind of charm about it, and those looking for some lighter gore may find this satisfies that particular itch. Based on my experience, I don't think seeing the film's predecessor is mandatory. Or at least, REMEMBERING Reeker isn't.


  1. I know I saw Reeker too... one of those 'one eye' movies you half pay attention to while doing something else. I think I remember the twist... which wasn't very twisty... but that it had some better than the usual acting? writing? something?
    Maybe I'll watch this one while I paint the kitchen.

    1. I think the twist was twisty at the time, but so many films have done it since that it's almost expected. And yes, I do recall the first film being of higher quality than most dead teenager movies, though I can't remember what its main strength was. Curious to see how this and your kitchen come out!