Directed By Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Remakes are a tricky thing to pull off. Do you honor the original? Update it and make it feel modern? How do you find that element that you think could have been improved upon and expand it? We all have examples of remakes that work and others that utterly fail. The latest incarnation of The Town That Dreaded Sundown falls somewhere in between. Its in no way a failure but I'm not really sure how well it works.
The 2014 film exists in a world where the original 1975 film also exists. The inhabitants of a small Texas/Arkansas border town watch the original film annually and on the night of the annual screening killings that resemble the "Moonlight Murders" start up again. We are 37 years removed from the 1976 film and 65 years removed from the real events that inspired it. Is this a copycat murderer or has the boogeyman returned to Teaxarkana? It might sound somewhat convoluted but the film pulls off its complicated exposition quite well.
The first half of the film feels creative and fresh despite being both a remake and a sequel. This is mostly accomplished with inventive camera work that reminded me of early Sam Rami. That's the main problem with this film. It set its own bar way too high. My expectations were pretty low considering I never really cared for the original. As the film started to reveal itself I became invested and thought I might be in for something really unique. The first act made me believe in the film the second act reinforced those beliefs and the third act pulled out the rug from under the whole film.
Overall I had a pretty good time with the movie but it had so much wasted potential that I was fairly annoyed at the same time. There was a great movie in there. I have no idea what happened to it but something went wrong along the way. It always disappointing when a film feels like it runs out of steam in the final act. I was really pulling for this movie but it lost its momentum and couldn't keep up the high standard it set for itself in the first act. You need to capture the audience in the first reel but don't blow your whole wad in doing so.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon has shown an impressive visual sense that belongs on the big screen. The Town That Dreads Sundown is frustrating because it could have been great but I am happy that it introduced us to this young director. He has a ton of potential and I'm excited to see whatever he works on next.