I want to start this synopsis of “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” by first writing about the original and then the synopsis of the remake:
1976 SYNOPSIS: “A Texas Ranger hunts for a hooded serial killer terrorizing the residents of a small town, set in 1946 Arkansas. Loosely based on a true story.”
2014 SYNOPSIS: “65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called ‘moonlight murders’ begin again. It it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him.”
IS IT A TRUE STORY? “The film is loosely based on the actual crimes attributed to an unidentified serial killer known as the Phantom Killer. The actual Phantom attacked eight people between February 22, 1946 - May 3, 1946 in or near the town of Texarkana, Texas (which is on the border of Texas and Arkansas).”
Here is a movie that got rave reviews. I didn’t hate the movie but I wasn’t in love with it. I’m not a huge slasher movie fan - I like some of them (Scream is one of my favorites) and other ones I just get bored with the same formula. After I watched this movie last night I was going to write a post about how I wasn’t a fan, but something was nagging me so I took some more time to think about it. Am I fan of the slasher genre? No. Was there something about this movie that I really liked? Yes.
One of the things that I really really really liked about this movie was how artistic it was. I liked the use of red lights as a backdrop to what was going on and how certain scenes were shot. I thought it was really artistic for a non-indie horror movie and I think that’s why I gave pause on my initial reactions to the film. There is actually one scene - early on in the movie - that blew my mind. How it was shot was beautiful and showed the main character with her back to the gruesome events unfolding. I found an image of it - it may or may not give away spoiler. The image doesn’t do it justice and it’s much more beautiful in the film.
Though I’m not a huge fan of gore, and there was plenty of that in this movie, I liked how some of it was hidden from the audience which allowed the viewer to figure out what was going on. I love when movies do that - I love when it’s up to the audience to figure out what exactly is going on.
Also, up until you find out who the killer is, there was something about this masked serial killer that kept nagging me. I didn’t care about him once I found out who it was - but the whole time something about his character got to me. I think it was that he seemed so human? I know that sounds weird and I’m not sure how to explain it but he seemed real and not just like all those Hollywood serial killers.
- How stylized and artistic the movie is. Also, how it was shoot and edited. I may not be a huge fan of the movie but I can respect how it was put together.
- Epic death scenes. Especially the one by the train tracks.
- For the most part, there was some believable characters - mainly the killer himself and I feel really weird saying that.
- The ending - I liked being surprised.
- The movie couldn’t hold my full attention - I found myself getting distracted and/or bored.
Overall this wasn’t nearly as horrible as I first thought it was once I took more time to think about it. I don’t think I would rewatch it again because I didn’t hold my interest as much as I would have liked it too. I definitely think it’s worthy to watch though if this genre is your thing. Here are my final thoughts on “The Town That Dreaded Sundown”: