The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) and Don’t Blink are currently on streaming Netflix.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) – Rated R
“Sixty-five years after the masked Moonlight Murderer terrified Texarkana, the mayhem begins again, and a shy teenage girl knows how to stop it.”
The original The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) was a rather odd hodgepodge of a movie involving a series of real-life murders in Texarkana. Part of it dealt with the murders from the murderer’s point of view and part dealt with the manhunt, ably aided by veteran character actor Ben Johnson as the lead Ranger in the investigation. It suffered from a low budget and some abrupt tonal shifts but was an interesting misfire for its time.
The new The Town That Dreaded Sundown is neither a remake nor a reboot. The old movie is actually part of the plot for the new movie (kudos to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa). The new attacks actually stem from an incident at a drive-in movie showing – you guessed it – The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
As usual for a horror movie, the police here are rather clueless and our plucky heroine who survived the initial attack of our new killer investigates the new murders. There are a few other additional good ideas but there are also a lot of story beats stolen from various other horror movies, such as Scream. Other thoughts came to mind at various points such as Nancy Drew and Scooby-Doo and these are not favorable.
The Town That Dreaded Sundown ends up being a passable waste of time, particularly those with knowledge of, though not necessarily reverence for, the original movie.
Don’t Blink (2014) – Not rated
“Ten friends are stranded at a secluded — and deserted — mountain resort, where they must solve the deadly mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.”
Don’t Blink is another good idea gone awry. I am unsure as to how much credit to give writer/director Travis Oates. There are actually many good ideas in this movie but the central premise is one that has been done before. Don’t Blink is exceedingly similar to Vanishing on 7th Street.
On the other hand, Oates sets his film at a deserted (or is it?) mountain resort, instead of an entire city, giving this a nice mystery vibe a la Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians. The scenes are filmed effectively though the repeated, nonsensical gasoline problem gets old very quickly (what, absolutely NO ONE filled up at the nearest gas station? AND none of the cars at the resort had used the resort’s pumps?). The gas issue does work though if you view the entire movie as a metaphor about this issue.
For being a pretty young people in peril (or PYPIP) movie, the characters are distinguishable and not horrifically annoying. There is a bit of disbelief involving the choice to stay once events unfold but it is all slickly done. There are some very interesting events surrounding the lodge that subtly play out.