Ginger Nuts of Horror
Slasher films come and slasher films go. It has been a while since there has been a really good slasher film of note. The Town That Dreaded Sundown promised so much when it was first announced, a clever take on an age old horror film premise, a Scream for the 2010s sadly the film doesn't quite live up to the expectations.
Where Scream was a witty and clever take on the whole slasher film genre, a film that reinvented and more importantly poked fun at even the most basic of horror film tropes and rules. The Town that Dreaded Sundown basically retreads the same old ground that countless films before it.
Which is a pity as the opening third of the film is very well done. The way the film references and makes nods to the original film and a series of true life murders is both clever and reverential. It sets the film up very well, and leads the viewer into thinking that we are in for a clever film. Even if the opening murder is so typical of American horror films with the couple making out in their car, and then getting murderalised by a masked killer is a plotline that has been used more times than Jason has had sequel, it is still very well done and rather suspenseful.
It's round about the halfway mark that the film really falls back into being just another slasher film, stylized killings, some of which are great, and some of which are just stupid. A knife on a trombone, come on really this isn't Stitches. It was at this point that for me the film really hit rock bottom.
I think what makes the film so disappointing is the fact that the rest of the film is so well done, the acting is great, the lighting, set design and camera work is exceptional, even the score is pretty good. it just feels as though the writer and the director bottled it and bowed down to studio pressure for a cookie cutter slasher film.
Don't get me wrong the are some decent scenes in the second half of the film, for example the hunt for a victim by the killer in a corn field is very tense and really well done. The slow approach of the killer, combined with the almost fieldmouse like scrambling of the victim makes for a tense will she won't she escape scene. And while the single jump scare doesn't really scare the viewer it is a clever shot.
By the time we find out who the masked killer is the audience surprise is more of a "OK" rather than an "Oh right, cool".
The Town That Dreaded Sundown isn't a completely bad film, it is just not the film it so easily could have been.