Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Town That Dreaded Sundown Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
65 years after a series of brutal slayings terrified the small town of Texarkana; the “Moonlight Murders” suddenly begin again. While on a trip to Lovers’ Lane, 17-year-old Jami (Addison Timlin) watches as her date is brutally slain by a masked serial killer. Barely escaping with her life, she becomes obsessed with finding the man referred to as “The Phantom.” As the body count climbs and the carnage comes closer, Jami delves deeper into the mystery, following clues that point her toward the killer’s true identity. Starring Anthony Anderson, Gary Cole, Edward Herrmann, Joshua Leonard, Denis O’Hare, Travis Tope and Veronica Cartwright, The Town That Dreaded Sundown puts Texarkana back on the map for all the wrong reasons.

Film (3 out of 5 stars)
If I ever planned on visiting Texarkana, I can honestly say that I’m scratching it off my list. The Town that Dreaded Sundown, is terrifying on the way that you don’t want to leave your house, never answer the door, not be a teenager or have sex. It’s a thriller that stays with you long after the movie ends.

Every year on Halloween, the town of Texarkana shows the 1970s movie The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a movie that is based on events from the 1940s. In the 40s, a man called The Phantom brutally murdered at least a half dozen people before disappearing into thin air. After the murders stopped, speculation as to who The Phantom was and what happened to him were rampant. Over time, the town returned to normal, until the 1970s, when a film was made based on the story.

Jami and her maybe boyfriend, Corey, are at the drive-in watching the movie with the rest of the town. However, Jami doesn’t like the movie and Corey agrees to leave. They head to a nearby park, where they stop on Lovers’ Lane and begin making out. Before they can go too far, Jami notices a man in a mask watching them. When the man disappears and reappears next to the car, he forces them out of the car and murders Corey. For some reason, though, he allows Jami to escape… but not before giving her a crucial bit of information about his identity.

As Jami researches the history of the town and the original murders, she finds that there is so much missing from the history and those missing pieces are the keys to finding who the murderer is. Jami gets closer and closer to the truth, but is thwarted by additional killings – a couple in a motel, the local deputy sheriff is killed in a home, and others are all killed in the same manner of the original killings and shown in the movie.  It’s only a matter of time before Jami becomes the next victim and she races against time to find out who the killer really is.

There is quite the interesting twist in the movie and I don’t want to risk spoiling it. Let’s just say, once I knew who the killer was, I didn’t expect it to be THAT person. The Town That Dreaded Sundown was produced by Ryan Murphy, who is the mastermind behind the “American Horror Story” anthology, “Glee,” and other great shows. He’s a great one to serve as producer because he is a good storyteller (except for “Glee,” but I won’t even begin to step up on my soap box over that) and does horror very well. The actors were good in their roles and the terror shown by Addison Timlin was very believable. The Town That Dreaded Sundown will definitely have me checking over my shoulder as I walk down the street and I’ll definitely make sure I am behind closed doors when the sun goes down.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
The 1080p high-definition widescreen 2.40:1 presentation of The Town That Dreaded Sundown was good. The picture was clear and the colors accurate. Much of the film takes place at night where there is moonlight, street lights and car headlights. The lights were authentic and I especially liked the red used in the opening murder scene. Transitions were sharp and there weren’t any visible problems on the screen.
Audio (2 ½ out of 5 stars)
The volume levels for The Town That Dreaded Sundown were inconsistent and I found myself holding the remote in my hand in order to adjust the volume. The dialogue levels were sometimes so low; I had the volume turned up almost all the way. Soon though, there was screaming, which was so loud, I think my neighbors wondered what was going on in my house. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 was good, when the volume level was right; it was just a bit distracting to have to adjust the volume so often.
Extras (0 out of 5 stars)
There are no special features included on the Blu-Ray. However, the film’s trailer is included.
Summary (2 out of 5 stars)
I’d love to give this Blu-ray a higher score and it would be a solid three stars if I only had to rate the movie, the video and the audio. But having to rate the disc as a whole, the lack of features really brings the score down. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a movie I will add to my shelf and will watch again. It’s terrifying and really sticks with you, even after some time has gone by. It’s a good one for a scary night in… but be sure your doors are locked, and you aren’t living in Texarkana!

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