A group of ravers are forced to set up camp in the desert, only to disocover they have stumbled upon a purgatory of the undead.
Here’s a pleasant surprise: a truly decent teen-themed horror picture. Reeker has a formula set-up and a not-exactly-unfamiliar payoff, but works so well, you won’t come out feeling cheated.
The desert setting, depopulated after some big event that could be an eco-apocalypse or a supernatural disaster, is well-used and creepy, but the film doesn’t skimp on crasser horrors. The Reeker itself is a good-value, old-fashioned monster, who moves in jittery, off-kilter fashion and attacks with a variety of whirling bladed weapons, and the idea of basing a horror around bad odours turns out to be surprisingly workable — with a series of evil-smelling ingredients thrown in.
The kids, meanwhile, are unusually well-characterised, especially Devon Gummersall as an unstereotyped blind boy and Scott Whyte as the token dickhead who turns out to have some depth. There’s also a welcome cameo from genre regular Michael Ironside as a gun-toting family man in a motor-home.
Writer-director Dave Payne goes against the prevailing trend of horror auteurs by suggesting he has some idea how human beings might feel in extreme situations, and even that he cares enough about his slaughtered characters to make us upset if, and when, they die horribly.
Despite the title, this is no stinker the opposite, in fact, offering superior scares to recent offerings from the likes of Rob Zombie and even Eli Roth.