Starring: Arielle Kebbel, Derek Richardson, Devon Gummersall, Tina Illman, Scott Whyte and Michael Ironside
Pathe Distribution Ltd
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 13 November 2006

Five students share a car ride to a large rave party taking place in the Nevada desert. Trip is on the run from a notoriously violent drug dealer after stealing pills worth many thousands of dollars. After passing a road accident and stopping at a diner, driver Gretchen finds out about the pills and pulls over to the side of the road, threatening to dump him in the middle of nowhere. Cookie, Nelson and Jack try to dissuade Gretchen, and she relents by driving them back to the diner. Curiously, there is no one in evidence, and all of the overnight stay rooms are empty. Having lost all their fuel via a damaged fuel pipe on the car, they are left effectively stranded. None of the phones work - not even their mobiles. They decide to take advantage of the facilities, but then they find a number of rotting dead animals. A trucker arrives looking for his missing wife, but there is no chance to escape before an ethereal and highly malevolent figure stinking of death and corruption arrives to pick them off in a particularly gristly manner...

The opening sequence of this film makes the new version of The Hills Have Eyes resemble Bambi. It must have the hardest-hitting first five minutes I've seen in a movie for a long time. A car hitting a deer in the middle of the road and covering the windscreen in thick red blood; a man with half of his head missing; and a whining dog dragging the rump where its back legs had so recently been (don't worry, if you check out the photo gallery you'll see that the dog normally wears a harness, pulls itself along on wheels and looks perfectly happy). I wondered if this could be one of those rare breeds that kicks the horror genre into a new and original direction every so often. Unfortunately, it soon regresses into a formulaic pattern.

The characters are typical of any teen horror flick. There's the sensible one, the party-loving animal, the dangerous one, the cool dude, and the disabled (blind) one. Although this could be a cross-section of teen society, it does seem rather forced here. The wait-until-the-end-for-everything-to-make-sense inverted plot is not exactly common place, but it has been used several times since The Sixth Sense. For the format: take a large portion of Dead End (one of those genre-turning films I mentioned earlier), add Jason from the Friday the 13th films, sprinkle on Final Destination and stir vigorously.

Having pointed out its shortcomings, however, I must make it clear that Reeker is far from being a bad movie. There are several enjoyable elements, including the Reeker itself, which is particularly well realised - although, considering the reveal of the ending, I still didn't fully understand its affinity for power tools. Perhaps it tied-in with the manner of deaths at the end. As an added bonus even Michael Ironside doesn't play the expected villain. So, in conclusion, a better than average horror offering from a new writer/director (which is always to be encouraged), but hardly original.

Special features include a commentary with cast and crew; a Making of Reeker featurette (11 mins); a Teaser Trailer; Photo Gallery; Cast & Crew Biographies; and Trailers for other releases.

On a final note, the end credits carry this message: "If you're a film reviewer and you're uninspired enough to use the phrase "This movie stinks" or any other lame pun/riff on the title - ha ha ha." I'd just like to say I'd never reduce myself to using such crass remarks. There's a better class of reviewer at Sci-fi-online (ahem). The director's gone and upset me now... sniff. Oops!

Ty Power

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