Once again it’s time for After Dark Horrorfest, and just like last year Robert Fure refused to watch any of the releases from foreign lands. You’d think he would have grown or matured some in twelve months, but no, he still believes that foreign horror is inferior to our own domestic terrors. I disagree with him on principle of course, but sadly this year’s foreign After Dark titles don’t do much to support my argument that these other countries can create cinema just as scary as our own…
When I first heard there was a horror film called The Reeds I assumed it was a biopic about our favorite booze-loving, pugilist/actor, Oliver Reed. You just know his family has more than a few horror stories to tell. Sadly, that was not the case. Instead it’s about a group of twenty-somethings who get together for a nice boat trip through the marshlands outside of London. Things don’t go well, something they should have first caught onto when they decided to go boating through a marsh, and soon they begin dying one by one. Are they being hunted by the teen stragglers hanging out between the water channels? Or by the ‘thing’ that seems to be stalking them from the mist? Or maybe by the shotgun-wielding figure in the rain poncho? Hell, maybe it’s all of the above…
A dog is barbecued off-screen, a guy impaled on spike dies… eventually, a lady is blown-up, another lady is hacked up with machete, and then one more guy falls victim to the same blade. There are also multiple gunshots and off-screen deaths.
The BBQ dog is seen charred and smoking on the spit. The guy who falls onto the big metal spike is impaled in spectacular fashion. Someone’s head gets a bit over-heated. The aforementioned machete draws more blood than anything else here… with the possible exception of a wet gunshot to the head.
Major missed opportunity here… ladies on a boating trip should really be taking the time to skinny-dip and play spin the bottle, but these chicks just gab. Instead we get to see a guy’s ass as he jumps in the water and are treated to a brief flash of his fleshy sack for our troubles.
As with many horror films, the ultimate lesson is don’t be an idiot. The bonus lesson though is never pick stupid vacation spots… because really, a marsh?
The Reeds starts promising enough, albeit a bit derivative of another British chiller, Eden Lake. Our protagonists head down to rent the boat and find it crawling with punk teenagers. The tension is heavy, but the little ruffians soon scamper off and the day trip begins in earnest. The fun in the sun comes to a close though as the kids make their presence known again and the boat gets stuck in one place. But just when you think you have the movie pegged we’re given a glimpse of a shrouded figure who appears to be hunting something in the reeds. And then people start dying. Thankfully they’re really annoying people…
The constant problem throughout the movie itself is the writing and characters. It’s a common issue with ensemble horror films, but is it really that difficult to create a likable and intelligent character? One guy is just a major dick, constantly stirring up trouble, but most of the others are just piss-poor decision makers. One guy takes off on his own and stumbles into a party with the effed up kids sitting around a fire, hacking up animals, and smearing blood on their face. So what does he do instead of running? He pauses to kiss one of the bloodied chicks. But even if you accept the characters you’re still stuck with a plot that goes from mildly interesting to convoluted and silly fairly quickly. There are too many threads forced together that end up ultimately making little sense.
The Reeds isn’t the worst of this year’s After Dark films… that honor belongs to The Graves, but it’s not very good. The cinematographer should be the proudest of everyone that worked on the movie as the flick looks a lot better than it is. Bottom line on The Reeds is that the movie is a passable little horror flick that won’t offend with its awfulness but it will never warrant a second viewing either.
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