Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Michael Muhney, Desmond Askew, Wilmer Calderon, Lew Temple, Michael Robert Brandon, Mircea Monroe
Directed by Dave Payne
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Just about a year ago an indie flick with kind of a silly sounding premise crept onto the horror scene with little to no fanfare. It was about a killing force that you could literally smell coming. Its name was Reeker (review here), and to everyone’s shock it was pretty fucking good. Instead of silly, once explained, the premise was actually rock solid — the stench you smell is that of the rotting flesh of this angel of murder who exists only to retrieve the souls of folks who were too stubborn to leave their purgatory-like state. Sound a little odd? I suppose it does, but watch the first movie and it will all make sense.
Before I begin the review, let me just say this … If the level of competency exhibited lately by the makers of direct-to-video flicks can remain this consistently good, I am never going out to the movies again. The powers-that-be need to take notice of what the little guys are accomplishing with a fraction of the usual over-inflated budgets and get the hell out of their way. OK, enough soapboxing.
This latest entry in the franchise (thankfully) once again finds director Dave Payne at the helm and serves two purposes — it’s both a prequel and a sequel. In the beginning we learn how Reekers are born or, rather, how they are made. Once all that is out of the way, we then find ourselves in a small desert town that’s about to be the site of a tragic event. A trio of casino robbers are about to tango with the law, and as a result a whole lot of death occurs. But these folks? They don’t know that they’re gone or in limbo. They missed the old train to the everlasting light. Even more disturbing, in addition to the black, tattered, and heavily armed Reeker, they also have some rather strange ghosts to contend with as well. Can any of them find a way to squeak out an additional chance at living, or will they just become more fodder for the beast?
No Man’s Land: Rise of Reeker, while not bringing anything new to the table, succeeds on every count that it should. From solid acting to great direction, it totally hits all marks. The musical score is top notch, the sound design is adequately spooky, and the creature and gore effects serve to bring the whole package together quite nicely. There’s just one small problem, and that’s a few pacing issues here and there. There’s no doubt the Reeker is a bitching character. We just don’t get enough of him. If there were even five minutes less exposition and five minutes more action, we would have had a contender for one of the best of the year. As is, it’s a film right on par with its predecessor. Considering the first entry kicked ass, that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Also beefed up this go-around is the supplemental material. The original DVD release of Reeker was nothing to write home about in terms of extras, but this one makes up for it. Things kick off with a segmented commentary track, meaning everyone involved recorded theirs at different times and then they were all spliced together. This kind of disrupts the flow of things, and although everyone is pretty upbeat, the whole affair is kind of disjointed. From there we get three featurettes ranging in length from twelve minutes to barely two, and they focus on everything from the making of the film to what scares the cast and crew. Add in a storyboard-to-scene comparison and a trailer, and voilà — instant neat little package.
The quality of the two movies in this new franchise is what really sells them the most. Each is riddled with twists, turns, and tons of cool shit to dig upon. As long as Dave Payne stays in control, I can honestly say that this stinky evil bastard is primed and has the potential to develop quite a cult following.
Don’t fear the Reeker … instead click the link below and take him home today!
4 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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