2010 After Dark Horrorfest: The Reeds (2009)
Just the other day I was chatting with another hardcore horror fan and reviewer Goregirl (read her awesome blog here) about how its easiest to write a review on a movie you either absolutely love or absolutely hate and the most difficult films to review are the ones that are the “middle of the roaders” (i.e., you neither love nor hate them; they just ‘are’). Well The Reeds, another After Dark Horrorfest flick in the 2010 line-up, is one of those “middle of the road” flicks that when it’s over makes ya sit back and go “meh”.
The movie starts out good enough with a man in a hooded parka standing in a small boat being stalked by something in the reeds. We see a few POV shots from the reeds and even hear some growling. It ends with the man in the boat (not that man in the boat; get your mind outta the gutter) shooting at the thing as it attacks him. We don’t know whether he got it or it got him. It was a well shot opening that grabs your attention and does a good job at building suspense. So I assumed from the opening and description of this film that The Reeds was a creature flick. Wrong; so very very wrong.
After the strong opening we join three London couples as they gather together for a weekend of fun and relaxation. They decide to rent a boat out in the country and spend the weekend partying on the water. From the get-go this was a doomed weekend: The cranky boat rental guy didn’t have a boat for them and sent them to some remote place for one “that was still available”; our group is stalked by a creepy group of teens who seem to enjoy slaughtering dogs; and as soon as they hit the water the group seems to immediately get lost in the maze of water ways. We also learn that one of the girl’s was from this area in the country. Whoa; did you hear that? Did you hear the loud alarm go off and see the bright red flashing light?? You quickly figure out that this won’t be a creature flick but there’s still a chance it could be a slasher movie. So I kept watching waiting for something cool to happen. I waited and waited. And then I waited some more. Hhmmm, it’s not looking good.
The beginning, after the opening scene, is a bit slow but I didn’t mind that so much. It slowed down in order to introduce the characters and give a little back story. I never have a problem with that. It’s just the entire direction the film took after the beginning. Our group’s boat hits something in the water and springs a sizable hole so they all abandon ship and immediately start encountering weird shit. A lot of them start seeing strange shit in the reeds only to find themselves looking at images of themselves; the strange group of teens look like they are holding séances and sacrificing animals in the reeds; and the cranky old man from the beginning keeps popping up. Then after about 30 minutes I realized that not only wasn’t this a creature flick, but it wasn’t going to be a slasher flick either. It was, so help us all, a crappy and predictable ghost story – one that you’ve seen before. Just like in 2003’s Lost Things, The Reeds involves a secret past event that created some kind of “ghost loop” in which our main characters get killed one by one and can’t escape from the loop’s eternal replay. And what is that event? Ya wanna know? Oh ok. It seems that 20-odd years ago that group of teens we see everywhere killed the boat rental guy’s dog. Rental-dude gets really pissed off and kills all the teens. Now the teens are ghosts and the old dude needs to keep killing them. Really? He killed a group of teens because they killed his dog? Pretty weak motivation if ya ask me. But that’s it folks; that’s the punch line. I told ya it was “meh”.
But again I wanna stress that this isn’t a horrible movie. Is it misleading? Definitely. Is it predictable? Absolutely. Does the whole thing feel familiar and the “twist” feel forced? You betchya!! But the cinematography is pretty good, the acting is much better than the typical After Dark entry, and director Nick Cohen seems competent enough (he just doesn’t have a very strong script to work with). Cohen is definitely someone I’ll keep my eye on in the future; he has a good eye for horror (as he shows in the opening sequence) and should have made a creature film here instead of an artsy-fartsy ghost flick. I can’t say I recommend this one, but you could do worse (don’t look away from me … you know I’m looking at you The Final!!).
Director: Nick Cohen
Plot: 2 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer