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Overall Rating

Awesome: 30.61%
Worth A Look38.78%
Just Average: 18.37%
Pretty Crappy: 2.04%
Sucks: 10.2%

3 reviews, 31 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"Prime slasher material, as good as that form gets."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2005 BOSTON FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL: "Reeker" is a genre movie that totally rests on great execution. Fans familiar with the genre will recognize its pieces, its concept, its final twist. Movies like that can feel perfunctory and lackluster, or they can be easygoing, fun, cinematic comfort food. After all, if you know the structure and outline, you can ride along, appreciating the cleverness of the surprises and enjoying the fun details. "Reeker" is one of the fun ones.

Five college students get together for a ride share to a rave. They are Trip (Scott Whyte), a fun-loving, irresponsible type who just made off with far more ecstasy than he paid for; Nelson (Derek Richardson), his slightly more grounded friend; Cookie (Arielle Kebbel), a giggly little blonde thing; Gretchen (Tina Illman), the responsible South African girl supplying the car; and Jack (Devon Gummersall), her boyfriend's blind (but sweet) roommate. When Gretchen finds out about the drugs, she turns around to ditch Trip at the diner/hotel they last passed (dropping him by the road in the desert would probably kill him), but it's mysteriously abandoned, they're out of gas, and there's no phone reception. They'll just have to wait out the night, but unfortunately for them, this isn't the kind of movie where such a situation leads to truth-telling and changing relationships; it's the kind where gruesome killings are announced by a foul odor.

It's a surprisingly good cast. None of the main cast are folks I remembered seeing elsewhere, but all of them had enough skills to make the characters feel like real people despite the lack of detail given to them; they have virtues beyond being young, pretty, and cheap. Casting directors should definitely look at Whyte if they need a younger Jim Carrey type, for instance, but all of them are plenty affable. The cast is rounded out with the inevitable B/C-list mainstays who rate an "and" in a relatively low-budget piece like this: Eric Mabius as Trip's (ahem) pharmacist and Michael Ironside as a guy driving an RV who seems to be the only other person in the area.

Writer/director Dave Payne has a fairly unimpressive resumé - mostly filled with Roger Corman productions or things which certainly could have been Roger Corman productions - but he turns in some good work here. He cranks up the tension well, comes up with some enjoyably icky gore moments, stages the bigger set pieces with style, and finds morbid humor in unexpected places (shatterproof glass, auto-flush toilets, flares). The film has several laugh-out-loud moments, but they don't exactly lighten the mood: The response is "oh my God, that's funny, but you guys are even more screwed than I thought." I kind of had my doubts that the blind guy would be able to tell direction with his nose, but, hey, I've accepted sillier from Daredevil and Zatoichi.

My only big complaint is that the end is a fairly familiar twist, and Payne kind of stumbles on it. He pulls the curtain back to give us an explanation, and in doing so somewhat negates all the effort that the characters put forth. It's also that dreaded kind of ending that isn't immediately obvious when you see it, so the movie supplies a series of flashbacks to explain just how what we've been shown matches up with what had been kept hidden. It works, and it's a reasonably clever conceit, but is it as good as just doing straight-ahead slasher stuff. Another issue is that there's really no way to convey that something really smells bad via film or DVD, so the film has to rely on an air-distortion digital effect.

Ultimately, those are minor complaints. The reeking stench is communicated, if not as viscerally as might be possible (a diseased portion of my brain wonders what live experimental theater could do with the concept). And the end works, though it's a little more satisfying upon arriving home than immediately after leaving the theater. The build-up to it is pretty darn good, though - it's familiar, but fun, and every step along the way is just about as good as it can be. If you go for the slasher genre, you'll probably find this a sort of overlooked gem (unless Lion's Gate gives it the solid push it merits). Even if you don't, being dragged along to this isn't any sort of particular hardship - solid filmmaking like this may not transcend the genre, but it highlights the most appealing aspects of it.

Oh, and stick around for the end credits. The filmmakers are still having fun there, including an admonishment to us critic-types not to use certain obvious puns in a negative review - although the solid film that precedes those credits is a far more effective deterrent.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11673&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/17/05 11:48:24
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 BendFilm Festival For more in the 2005 BendFilm Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival For more in the 2005 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/31/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
5/11/08 Mic Stupid story, Nice blonde though 1 stars
10/14/07 William Goss Peculiar villain can't make up for common cop-out ending and sheer monotony. 3 stars
9/10/07 Dan Saw it on Sky, total rubbish 1 stars
9/08/07 steffi Nice suspense, gore but storyline unoriginal. Will never use outside loos :P 4 stars
9/02/07 casey great movie and great storyline, it matches perfectly with the car acciednet 4 stars
7/16/07 john The people who complain abou the ending are morons. 4 stars
2/06/07 pete.chesworth The FX was excellent but what happened to the storyline 3 stars
12/31/06 Tabitha Amazing and full of spine chilling thrills! 5 stars
10/02/06 cellardoor my god what a poor movie, not the worst i've ever seen but it's just bad. 1 stars
9/28/06 Rob Fied This is a great film a real ribirth of the classic 80's horro genre with a twist 5 stars
8/27/06 Barry Norman Save rental fee, give it to charity, utter shite 1 stars
7/31/06 Soeren It is quite likely the worst cast I have ever seen. 1 stars
7/01/06 chris f totally awesome well worth watching and owning on dvd! 5 stars
6/04/06 Renegades One of the best horror films I have seen in years 5 stars
3/24/06 Alice like all others, nothing new 2 stars
8/08/05 David Goldblum Great film more than I expexcted 5 stars
7/26/05 Colin M. Finally. A smart, violent, sexy, funny, monster flick. 5 stars
6/24/05 Rory the Butcher Scary as hell. The Reeker is cool. 4 stars
5/15/05 thehitman very good stuff... 5 stars
4/16/05 Don Larson A very good horror movie. M. Ironside and S. Whyte did a great job. 5 stars
3/30/05 Jennifer Borders A must see! 5 stars
3/23/05 TomThumb2 Why aren't more horror movies this good? 5 stars
3/23/05 monnilove had you on the edge , great movie 3 stars
3/22/05 Laz Scary stuff. Good CGI. 4 stars
3/22/05 Cheri Howell I loved every minute of this movie! Dave Payne has made the funniest horror movie ever! 4 stars
3/18/05 Ron Apt Awesome !!! 5 stars
3/17/05 Tommy Bradley Reeker is a fresh take on the horror genre. I really, really liked it. 5 stars
3/17/05 lance the humor is dark and the scares work! my kind of flick! 5 stars
3/16/05 Don Parks Its a great movie. It has alot of good scenes and the acting is really believeable. 5 stars
3/15/05 Marc Gruesome, but cinematically a blast. I enjoyed it. 4 stars
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Directed by
  Dave Payne

Written by
  Dave Payne

  Eric Mabius
  Scott Whyte
  Tina Illman
  Arielle Kebbel
  Devon Gummersall
  Michael Ironside

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