Five college kids Gretchen (Tina Illman), Trip (Scott Whyte), Cookie (Arielle Kebbel), Nelson (Derek Richardson) and ‘Blind’ Jack (Devon Gummersall) share a ride through the desert to a rave. They are all different personalities and we are given a few thankfully brief moments to get to know them before Gretchen decides to throw Trip out of her SUV as he has a bag full of stolen ecstasy tablets. Not wanting to ditch him in the middle of the desert they agree to take him back to the gas station/diner/motel that they stopped at on the way. However once there they discover that the previously busy place is now deserted, their SUV has run out of fuel and alarmingly, find themselves the target of a foul-smelling, deranged killer with a penchant for dismembering his victims. They are joined by drug manufacturer Radford (Eric Mabius) who wants his drugs back and (Michael Ironside) who is looking for his missing wife, but he may not be telling them the entire truth…
Directed solidly enough by David Payne, the movie throws up just enough information to give us clues, keep the interest levels up and moves along at a good pace.
Although it’s done well enough, Reeker offers nothing really new to the dusty, desolate location stalked by a killer scenario; other than the ‘smell’ factor, the reason for which is revealed towards the latter part of the movie. The story is fairly simple and the characters are slightly different from the average jock, nerd, and hot girl etc., college kids by numbers that are usually thrown together in slasher flicks; however we still want to see them killed and any real lack of empathy with any of the characters makes that easy. The major distinct change is ‘Blind’ Jack, although his alleged heightened sense of smell proves to be wasted as far as story point possibilities are concerned.
The design of the ‘Reeker’ is pretty good but the finished look is not, CGI doesn’t work in horror movies. They should have delayed showing him and then used that saved time and energy in fewer shots to raise the overall quality. The ‘woozy’ smell effect is terrible, it cheapens the movie and isn’t necessary; having the characters reacting would suffice.
The scenario has been done before, and better, in ‘Identity’ and some of the ‘Final Destination’ movies. Having said that, at least it tried to do something new and that’s something that is very rare in American horror films these days.
It’s hard to know what to make of ‘Reeker’, I can’t say too much about the plot without giving away pointers towards the ending, which depending on your previous viewing history will leave you pleasantly surprised or groaning. However the final coda after what should have been the ending feels tacked on and unnecessary.
There’s a 2008 sequel: No Man’s Land: The Rise of the Reeker. Haven’t seen it and in no hurry to.
Quality: Well made 3 out of 5 stars
Any good: 2 out of 5 stars (a point off for shoddy CGI effects and the final ending)