Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (American Horror Story) directs The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a welcome take on an obscure 1976 slasher movie. The film takes place in Texarkana, somewhere between Texas and Arkansas. It's here that the original film was shot, based on a series of murders that terrified the town, which in turn inspires a spate of new killings. Jami Lerner is our scream queen for the night, last seen (and memorable) in Odd Thomas.
Sixty-five years after a masked serial killer terrorised the small town of Texarkana, the so-called 'moonlight murders' begin again. Is it a copycat or something more sinister? A lonely high school girl (Lerner) with dark secrets of her own may be the key to catching him. Time will tell I guess, in traditional - but not tired - fashion. The Town That Dreaded Sundown rarely breathes new life into the horror genre but it does get pretty much everything right. Which, in a genre raised on unnecessary revivals, is the best that we can hope for.
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon should take most of the credit. With TTTDS he is not attempting to reinvent the genre - he doesn't have to. TTTDS is delivered with self-assurance, creativity and atmosphere to spare. Not bad for a film whose villain brandishes a gun as his signature weapon - not exactly the weapon of choice for a slasher film bogeyman. If anything, the gun he waves acts as an eerie reminder of just how delicate life can be, heightening the tension in every frame. He does cut loose every once in a while, but it's not like Alfonso is defying his fan-base either. TTTDS knows what it is and does it well.
Reminiscent of The Fog and My Bloody Valentine, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is an affectionate nod to all things 80s. Free of the constraints of 'self-aware' Hollywood, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon serves up a welcome dose of old-school horror. The timing couldn't be any better. Get ready for the imitators and enjoy it while you can.