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  Reeker The Smell Of Fear
Year: 2005
Director: Dave Payne
Stars: Devon Gummersall, Derek Richardson, Tina Illman, Scott Whyte, Arielle Kebbel, Michael Ironside, Eric Mabius, Marcia Strassman, Les Jankey, David Hadinger, Carole Ruggier, Paul Greenstein, Paul Butcher, Steven Zlotnick, Christopher Boyer
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: A family are driving through a remote part of the country and while the father sleeps in the back seat with the pet dog, the mother and her son play a game of I-spy. The son is better at it than she is, and when he says he spies something beginning with "D" she is stumped, that is until she realises he was referring to the deer standing in the middle of the road - the deer which they ram into. The car is forced to stop, and the father, mother and dog get out to inspect the damage, but they would have been better to stay where they were and drive on as there is something very dangerous lurking in the bushes...

It's slasher movie time again, and after that arresting opening, which makes good use of digital effects, the scene is set for one of the brighter entries in a well-worn genre. Alas, the longer this goes on the more idiotic it becomes, with every plot twist thrown up purely for effect in the moment and without much in the way of logic. Scripted by its director Dave Payne, it was a proudly independent film, but only went to show that sometimes a script doctor is sometimes exactly what your opus needs, for Reeker had the appearance of a horror movie written by an unimaginative adolescent.

That was nowhere more plain than in its killer, a poorly conceived creature whose main distinguishing feature was the terrible stench it exuded, which in a cartoonish development makes the air ripple as if it were in a heat haze. Not a bad idea, but apart from making the cast splutter a bit it has no bearing on the rest of the film. Worse than that, it hops around in a missing frame-style of movement that suggests it's a ghost, and that is combined with a power tool for a hand for maximum ridiculousness. Talk about a villain designed by a committee.

A far less ornate bad guy would have been a better bet, but what of those he spends the movie menacing? Payne sticks to tradition and makes them a bunch of young people, five of them here travelling across the country to a festival, but wouldn't you know it? Their car breaks down next to a motel in the middle of nowhere for more haven't we seen this before? plot developments and with no phone reception, or any contact with the outside world at all, they decide to stay where they are for the night and hope someone passes by in the morning.

Then, with crushing inevitability, they are picked off one by one by the Reeker. There are signs that we're not supposed to take this entirely seriously, and there is the usual joker here in the character of Trip (Scott Whyte) who you wish could have been wittier. In fact, there's no reason why you don't wish this could have been better overall, because the enthusiasm is certainly there, it's just that the inspiration is lacking. Even in the end credits this is the case, with Payne asking reviewers not to use the phrase "This movie stinks", as if that's the best insult they could throw at it when in fact there are bigger problems to identify. That finale in particular is no better than "Then they woke up and it was all a dream!" The music is also by Payne: he's nothing if not industrious.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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