Directed By: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Written By: Roberto Agguire-Sacasa
Based On the Screenplay of the 1976 film Written By: Earl E. Smith
Cinematography By: Michael Goi
Editor: Joe Leonard
Cast: Anthony Anderson, Addison Timlin, Veronica Cartwright, Travis Tope, Ed Lauter, Gary Cole, Joshua Leonard, Edward Herrman, Arabella Field, Spencer Treat Clark, Denis O’Hare
65 years after a masked serial killer terrorized the small town of Texarkana, the so-called ‘moonlight murders’ begin again. Is it a copycat or something even more sinister? A lonely high school girl, with dark secrets of her own, may be the key to catching him. This is a loose remake of the 1976 film by the same name based on “The Moonlight Murders” incident in Texarkana
The film literally is fast and furious and cuts to the chase. Though the random killings that follow in some sort the characters are introduced strongly and quickly, Only to be dispatched rather quick before you can really have a chance to get to know them, Not letting it stick. I can understand using it as a kind of set-up to a degree like scream of a cameo and killing to throw the audience off guard of who you don’t think is going to die.
It’s a film that seems to be influenced by the company that produced it and is in the process of a comeback and maybe re-branding of Orion Films.
Having seen the original film, obviously this film gets away with more then he original can. As times have changed and his one isn’t tied up in the facts. As also this is supposed to be more of a theatrical feature and the original was a TV-movie that at least was more creepy with touches of humor that feels misplaced.
The film feels alive and offers more energy and creativity more than some more modern horror films or even certain remakes and reboots. It’s better than one would think. it relies on more visceral thrill as and excitement. Though the reasons seem to make very little sense sometimes.
The awkward scene of teenagers of the same sex exploring their sexuality seems oddly misplaced but adds to the demographic of including victims of all groups. Though why is theirs more vicious and cruel. Is it just the character amping up his level of viciousness to truly make him evil? The frankness is not only limited to violence, but also sexual. Also why do some kills have to be so based on the methods of the way people were dispatched in the original film. Again referencing and aping the original way too much. Though one aspect that is new is the slasher tending to use a gun more than just blades or amped up weapons.
The film is entertaining yet strange. It has good cinematography that seems to make the film seem better and styled more than it should be. It also distracts at times from the Weakness of the story telling at times.
The films time set is confusing as it takes place in more modern times yet the fashions and atmosphere make it feel like a film from the past or at least set earlier though with modern technology and touches.
The film is a kind of a throwback to slasher films more of the 80’s. As the killer seems to be unstoppable and had amazing strength. Now while his violence is graphic and unflinching it also seems a bit much as for some of his kills there is literally no one else around and he seems to go overboard with the stabbings and the blood becomes more orgasmic. Here the killings go from random to more personal as characters we get to know are included as in some of the victims. As well as random strangers.
Seeing the use of known character actors in the principal roles is refreshing like the original film this keeps referencing and is based on. Mixed in with a young teenage female protagonist. seeing Edward Herrman, Ed Lauter, Gary Cole as well as Anthony Anderson in a non comedic role and as someone in charge. That managed to put a smile on my face. As well as the film attempting to keep naked flesh on display. Which made me wonder in one graphic sex scene with nudity the female is topless though not as top heavy as usual in these films. I wonder if it was a joke to go against a cliché while being a cliché? It was also like the opposite of the remake of MY BLOODY VALENTINE’S in 3D naked horror scene.
One of the more annoying aspects of the film, Is how it tries to be Meta with the constant referencing of the original film. With reenactment sod certain minor scenes side by sides recreations and flashbacks to it. To a point where we get it and are happy to acknowledge but we in the audience won’t forget. Let the film be it’s own. It become rather annoying and seems more like a crutch. The story becomes so Meta, it reminds one of the film WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE only not as much fantasy based. Also feels influenced by the SCREAM movie franchise. Though I admire what the film attempts in also using it’s story at times to give a sly commentary on the genre. Though I can admit maybe I am reading about it too much.
The development of having the killer doing some extra stalking, By also contacting and confessing to a degree with the first victim/survivor makes the film feel a bit too cliché. As I can understand a killer feeling the need to confess or tell someone so they can call attention to their work and sort of brag. Here it just feels like an element added to add suspense and have a reason for her character to be such a pivotal role in the case and give her more meaning in the case then was needed.
The directing in this film by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon was really strong and keeps the audience interest up. Though there might be a little too much editing tricks that get to be gimmicky and might make the audience feel twitchy. Though the films offers to be whole. It does provide a eagerness to move forward as the film does move quickly and does have a sense of dread hanging over it. The film also doesn’t really provide suspense and when it does the immediate release of the tension while appreciated. Makes it feel unnecessary as what is the sense in even building it if you are going to demolish it before it really has a chance to grow.
I wish sometimes these films would have Red Herrings that we only learn later are. Where characters are killed. It seems like by the killer, but in reality is done accidently or for another reason by a different character or maybe even a copy-cat killing that dilutes the case and it’s evidence.
Though plenty of red herrings are offered at least in this film we get an ending that offers up an explination. While leaving an opening for a sequel if so inclined. Though considering how it kind of falls apart towards the end. Maybe it would have been better left a mystery