R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Dave Payne
with Scott Whyte, Tina Illman, Devon Gummersall, Derek Richardson, Arielle Kebbel, Eric Mabius, Michael Ironside, Marcia Strassman, David Hadinger, Les Jankey, Carole Ruggier, Paul Butcher
release US 13.Mar.05 sxsw,
UK 30.Jun.06
05/US Pathé 1h29

Come in, Tokyo: Illman and Whyte

richardson mabius ironside


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Reeker There's one basic problem here: this horror flick isn't remotely scary. No matter what writer-director Payne does to crank up the suspense, he can't breathe any life into this mess.

After the requisite opening shocker, in which we learn that something murderous is on the loose, we meet five ride-sharers travelling to a party in the desert. There's party boy Trip (Whyte), who's just robbed his dealer (Mabius), Trip's frat brother Nelson (Richardson), sassy driver Gretchen (Illman), blonde bimbo Cookie (Kebbel) and sensitive blind guy Jack (Gummersall). When they're stranded at an isolated hotel, strange things start happening, and death is preceded by a terrible smell.

First, odours don't really work on film, because we only experience them through the actors' pinched faces. Even Payne's wavy-air effect can't convey the concept. But this is actually more frightening than the Reeker (Hadinger) himself. Basically, the film is a collection of jarring musical notes and red herrings--nothing tense ever happens on screen. We just watch the five passengers, plus a man they meet (Ironside), bickering and interacting lamely (the two who decide to have sex jump in bed fully clothed), and being killed one by one in inexplicable ways.

Payne cuts away from most of the gore too, so what's left for horror fans? A bit of nifty computer animation adds the missing grisliness. And there's lots of people running around in terror. But the story's so incoherent that we're never sure what they're afraid of. And the characters are so badly developed that we don't care if they survive (although having a blind guy does generate some sympathy, even if he's one of cinema's most unconvincing blind guys ever).

It starts out promisingly enough, and the premise is both eerie and involving as we meet the central characters and watch them head right into the danger zone. There are also several excellent comical jolts. But the pointless dialog, illogical actions and unconvincing events leave the film feeling painfully dull, not to mention the fact that the plot is lifted directly from other films. In the end, it's amateurish and smug. And pretty unbearable.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 5.Apr.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Reeker Kat, Ireland: 1/5 "This film was so bad I actually walked out - which I have never ever done before. I could have sworn I was watching The Hills Have Eyes at times, and the acting was so bad it was almost laughable. Occasionally films like this can be enjoyed because they are so bad, but this was just terrible." (6.Jul.06)

neil, dublin: 1/5 "I was shocked that some critics actually gave this film a good review. It was, without doubt, the worst film I have ever seen in the cinema. I felt like asking for my money back afterwards. How do these movies ever get the green light? The plot is bizarre, the dialogue is flimsy and the 'twist' at the end is ridiculous. This film has no redeeming features. I urge you not to waste your time watching it, instead do something more interesting. I'm sure there is a freshly painted wall somewhere about to dry." (12.Jul.06)

© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall