‘If you can’t breathe, then you can’t scream.’
Reeker is a 2005 American horror feature film co-produced, written, scored and directed by Dave Payne (Addams Family Reunion; Alien Avengers II; Alien Terminator). The movie stars Devon Gummersall, Derek Richardson and Tina Illman.
A prequel, No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker, also directed by Dave Payne, followed in 2008.
Strange things happen in the desert. For instance, at the start of Reeker, a family is driving across the desert when they hit a deer. The father gets out of the car to check on the situation, which leads to the family dog getting out. The father goes chasing after the dog. When he eventually returns, he’s missing half of his face!
Meanwhile, five friends are driving across the desert, heading for a rave. Nelson (Derek Richardson) and Cookie (Arielle Kebbel) are falling in love. So are Jack (Devon Gummersall) and Gretchen (Tina Illman). Meanwhile, Trip (Scott Whyte) is freaking out because, earlier, he ripped off the friendly neighborhood drug dealer, Radford (Eric Mabius). Trip is worried that Radford is going to come after him. Everyone else is so annoyed with Trip that they barely even notice an overturned car sitting out in the middle of the desert.
Finally deciding that she’s had enough of Trip, Gretchen pulls over to the side of the road and orders Trip to get out of her car. However, right after Trip gets out of the car, there’s a sudden tremor. The whole world seems to shake. When Gretchen reluctantly agrees to take Trip to a nearby diner so that he can get a ride home, everyone is shocked to discover that the diner is deserted. For that matter, so is a nearby motel. Everyone’s phone is dead too. When their car suddenly stops working, the group decides to spend the night at the motel.
Eventually, they do discover that they’re not totally along. There’s a dazed man named Henry (Michael Ironside), who says that he’s searching for his wife. There’s the legless man who jumps out of a dumpster and scurries off. Even more alarming, for Trip, is the fact that he keeps seeing Radford standing in random places! Beyond all that, there’s the shadow that seems to be determined to kill all of them, one-by-one.
There’s a big twist that explains why the hotel is deserted. It must be said that it’s kind of a familiar twist yet the film still sets it up well and, even if you’ve figured it out beforehand, it’s still a lot of fun to see how every strange thing that’s happened links back up to that twist.
Director David Payne makes great use of the dilapidated hotel and, for the most part, the cast does a good job with their thinly-drawn characters. Unsurprisingly, the best performance comes from Michael Ironside, who is an old pro when it comes to movies like this. That said, Scott Whyte and Eric Mabius also bring some unexpected shadings to their characters. Reeker is an entertaining little horror film, one that does a good job of using the typical slasher tropes to tell an interesting story.
Other reviews [spoilers]:
“Reeker works on several levels. It has it all from suspense to shock to gallons of grue, but the main thing that set it apart from the usual kill-the-teen pack is the great script and direction by writer/director Dave Payne and some really above average acting by the cast. Nothing about Reeker feels phoned-in..” Dread Central
“Writer-director Dave Payne manages to keep the audience guessing as to what is going on, without ever making Reeker too confusing to follow, and, most important, so obvious that the audience unravels the mystery too soon […] Even with the problems that Reeker has, it is solidly entertaining (at least as far as contemporary horror films go).” DVD Talk
“One of the appealing things about the film is the creature itself, which is clearly supernatural in nature, accompanied by an odious smell but is also seen wearing a gas mask and producing mechanical devices, suggesting something science-fictional. Where the film falters after a fine build-up is in the twist ending that pulls back to explain everything that is going on.” Moria
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“Alas, the longer this goes on the more idiotic it becomes, with every plot twist thrown up purely for effect in the moment and without much in the way of logic. Scripted by its director Dave Payne, it was a proudly independent film, but only went to show that sometimes a script doctor is sometimes exactly what your opus needs…” The Spinning Image
“Reeker is smarter than its genre, and so runs the risks of condescending to the fright-night aud. But the pic avoids smarmy posturing by being more than reverent toward its elders — Evil Dead among them — while sending them up at the same time. A no-brainer for midnight-movie glory, Reeker is also a glossy, gory takeoff on the teensploitation slasher flick…” Variety
Cast and characters:
- Devon Gummersall as Jack
- Derek Richardson as Nelson
- Tina Illman as Gretchen
- Scott Whyte as Trip
- Arielle Kebbel as Cookie
- Michael Ironside as Henry Tuckey
- Eric Mabius as Radford
- Marcia Strassman as Rose Tuckey
- David Hadinger as The Reeker
- Les Jankey as Trucker
- Carole Ruggier as Mom
- Paul Butcher as Kid
- Steven Zlotnick as Officer Bern
- Christopher Boyer as Officer Mansfield
- Wesley Thompson as Officer Taylor
- Alejandro Patino as Velez the Medic
Los Angeles, California