The Town that Dreaded Sundown

Based on true events in 1949 involving a series of unsolved murders, ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ is a ‘meta-sequel’. This means the original film, released in 1976, exists in the world in which this current one resides. It’s an interesting concept rarely used and a great way to refresh a stale formula. Equal to its forebear, this takes welcome risks few do while spinning its own deadly web of intrigue.

While watching ‘The Town that Dreaded Sundown’ at the local drive-in, lovebirds Corey (Spencer Treat Clark) and Jami (Addison Timlin) are attacked by the film’s killer. Wondering how this is possible, the killer’s blade strikes fear into the small town of Texarcana. Reliving the fictional and factual horror, Jami and her friends stop at nothing to uncover the truth and finish the killer’s reign of terror forever.

You wouldn’t think such a strange concept would work but it does. Rather than taking the lazy route by being a straight remake, it goes along another path entirely. With the original actors and director involved in the new series of slayings, the story is consistently watchable. Like a ghoulishly enjoyable whodunnit, the characters not only have to guess who the real killer is from 1949 but also who is doing the fresh round of killings.

That’s not to say ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ is a masterpiece but at least it does something away from the norm. Whilst it has the expected requisite kills, the way the mystery is interwoven with the real-life and cinematic version of events keeps the viewer on their toes. The direction and performances are suitably energetic and are admirably assisted by striking cinematography and score.

For those liking this type of movie, ‘The Town That Dreaded Sundown’ is worth watching. It ignores most of the standard tropes the genre uses and improves on the ones it uses. More films like these would do much to lift the standard of story-telling in the thriller category and allow them to linger in the memory.

Rating out of 10: 7


Unfriended: Dark Web

A sequel to the 2014 hit ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ is definitely a 21st Century horror movie. Seen through various computer screens, the action and suspense is derived from the online visuals. It adds another wrinkle to a genre that has tried everything to scare audiences. Skype, chat-rooms, web domains and more are its spooky weapons of choice with these tools frequently hitting its dreaded targets.

Matias (Colin Woodell) finds a laptop at a cyber café using it to chat to his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras). While chatting, he receives a message from Charon, claiming to be the laptop’s owner. Assisted by a group of friends to unravel the growing mystery, Matias’ life quickly spirals out of control. Entering a realm of darkness and death, Matias and friends become trapped in a dangerous web.

‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ is an effective chiller due to being believable. Discarding the ghostly threat of the first instalment, the sequel has human antagonists causing the trauma. This works in grounding suspense in some form of reality and relating to the characters. The online world can be a very dark place with words causing as much mental anguish as physical harm. The mix of reasonably intelligent characters makes a refreshing change from the air-headed victims of the past, making it easier to care about their fate.

It’s a credit to the writing and direction that ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ doesn’t simply rehash what’s gone before. Effort has been done in creating an equally suspenseful tale. Whilst not truly remarkable, it endeavours to create a different type of atmosphere while using the same elements of the first entry. ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ can be viewed as a stand-alone movie without needing to see the original, which is what any good sequel should do.

‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ feels scarier than its predecessor in that the events could happen. Even the most outlandish horror movie is based on a kernel of truth. Another sequel wouldn’t be unwelcome as long as the format is used as the twisty scenario engages until the final scene.

Rating out of 10: 6