OCTOBER 27, 2008
I saw the first Reeker way back in 2005 at a film festival in Boston. I quite enjoyed it, but haven’t given it much thought since. But when I saw that there was a sequel, I got excited; I liked the killer and wanted to see more of him. Sadly, while No Man’s Land: The Rise Of Reeker is far from a bad movie, it’s mostly just a remake, and the small bit of the film that IS new doesn’t quite make up for the fact that the rest is covering the exact same ground, right down to the same twist ending.
Still, if you’ve never seen the original (which is likely), you can watch this one without any trouble, as it works just fine (possibly better) as a standalone film. Also, since you won’t see it coming, you can enjoy the twist far more than the more prepared fellow audience members. Spoilers follow!
But for those of you who, like me, enjoyed the first (and thus gave it the audience that led to a sequel in the first place), you might be a bit perturbed to see this followup essentially copy the original, right down to the exact same twist ending. Not since Escape From LA have I seen a sequel so content in doing the same damn thing. A bit of origin for the killer/ghost thing is given, and that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t change the fact that once you realize that writer/director Dave Payne is building toward the same “they were actually all dead the whole time” climax, it becomes a bit dull to watch.
Making matters worse is that this is a much slower and less gorier film than the original. By the hour mark I think we’ve had two kills, and one of them is so abrupt and random (and inconsequential, as it occurs to a character we haven’t met yet) that it shouldn’t even count. Since Payne is telling the same story, the least he could do is provide some cool new kills, but no dice. Even Home Alone 2 offered up new traps.
However, it’s at least competently made; and on film, which is a nice bonus (the original was as well, but these type of movies are increasingly being shot on HD). Plus, since it’s been a while since I have seen the original, I found myself somewhat engaged, particularly when the characters begin to get the idea that something’s “not right” (I love the bit of the car hitting the invisible barrier that keeps them from “escaping”). And the heroine, one Mircea Monroe, is hot as hell, which almost makes up for the lack of other “eye candy” (i.e. gore and kills).
But the biggest highlight for me was that there was a character who suffered from Anosmia (fuck you, Firefox, it's spelled right! It's a word!!!), aka the inability to smell. I myself suffer from this affliction, and I believe that this is the first film to address the non-issue of folks like myself who are unable to detect farts and are forever subjected to inane questions regarding how severe it is. “What about skunks? You can smell skunks at least, right?”. No. Do you ask a blind guy if he can see really BIG things? Of course, this gets the poor woman killed, because our smelly killer doesn’t sense him behind her. When I saw the original, I thought about a sequel in which a guy with Anosmia is able to trick the monster somehow (I didn’t really flesh it out), so I was bummed to see Payne go the other way. I should file a discrimination suit.
The DVD, released as part of Ghost House’s After Dark ripoff, is pretty packed with worthwhile extras. Payne apparently cares a lot about the “little guy” on a film set, so not only is his commentary populated with appearances by non-exciting crew members like the color timer and such, but there is also a 5 minute piece in which just about every crew member (key grip, caterer AND craft services folks, 2nd assistant camera...) is introduced by name, which is pretty awesome. It’s these men and women who really bust their ass to make a movie look good, so it’s nice to see them get some recognition. Back to the commentary, definitely keep listening to the very end; Payne reads an incoherent rant from a guy who apparently hated the first movie, and it's amazing to hear this guy's terrible grammar and pointless rage spoken aloud. He also encourages you to buy the movie instead of just renting, but it's too late for that on my end (not for you though! scroll down!!) There is also a more traditional making of, which is kind of bland until the point where they discuss visual effects. We see how they design an AMAZING means of getting a realistic “missing brain” look – if I ever make a movie I am totally stealing their idea. The video presentation is also top-notch.
So if you’ve never seen the original, I guess it doesn’t matter where you start. This one’s not as fun, but there is some backstory that the original lacked. Your call.
What say you?