It's been 65 years since small town Texarkana was terrorized by a masked serial killer. These attacks were known as The Moonlight Murders, carried out by the Phantom Killer and never solved, leading to the small town being surrounding in infamy. Present-day Texarkana embraces their terrible history on Halloween by showing a film based on the murders at a local drive-in. On the very same night, history begins to repeat itself and the Moonlight killer is back.
High schooler Jami (Addison Timlin) has her own dark past and soon becomes the next victim, though she isn't killed by the masked murderer but she is certainly terrorized by this vengeful slasher after a very close encounter. Stalked and threatened, Jami is desperate to end the killing sprees and her own torment. In doing so she uncovers some town secrets that have a deep connection to the murderer. From there on, things start to get very dangerous as she gets close to uncovering the mystery behind the murders.
This remake of a classic slasher/horror isn’t afraid to acknowledge its original predecessor as it plays out as more of a sequel, and the decision to show footage from the original 1976 film to mark the town's history was a very smart idea. The original film is also based loosely on a true story, which gives the film layers of history and fear. It's a meta film that director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has really been able to sink his teeth into, showing his love for the genre and the filmmaking process with a beautiful style and look. Having directed TV shows from Glee to American Horror Story, Alfonso has definitely had experience in building up lots of tension with added drama. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is his first feature film and it is not a shy away from his previous work, and Alfonso has definitely got his own style of directing; he has given a lot of depth to the characters and has a knack for pulling off dark humour and lightening the tone of a very sombre subject. Despite having a lot of connection to the original film, it is in fact very different in tone, which is a light cocktail of terrifying horror and awkward humour.
Although set in the present day, there is a classic ‘70s-style reminiscent of a lot of slasher horrors from that particular decade. John Carpenter's Halloween certainly comes to mind, but also revenge horrors such as I Spit on Your Grave. There's some great tension-building with classic gory murder scenes without showing too much, keeping the imagination running. Due to a recent mass revival of this era of slasher films, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is no fresh take on the genre as it plays by the rules and tropes of our favourite slasher films, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. It's a very intense creep show that’s worth a watch by anyone who is a fan of the genre.
Special Features: Interviews with cast and crew
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2015) / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: ALFONSO GOMEZ-REJON / SCREENPLAY: ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA / STARRING: ADDISON TIMLIN, TRAVIS TOPE, VERONICA CARTWRIGHT, ANTHONY ANDERSON, GARY COLE, EDWARD HERMANN / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 17TH