No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker,
directed by Dave Payne
(Lions Gate, 2008)

No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker is one of the more infuriatingly bad films in the increasingly dubious Ghost House Underground Eight Film Collection. Things start off quite promisingly with a great little murder scene, but I wanted to hit something by the time the end credits rolled. Apparently, this is a sequel to another Dave Payne film called Reeker, which I haven't seen. All I know about the earlier film is that it can't possibly be as bad as this one. Writer/director Dave Payne basically gives the audience the middle finger with his awful ending to a film that was already devoid of all logic and continuity and weighted down with the most overdone and annoying of story and character cliches.

Sheriff McAllister (Robert Pine) made his reputation by capturing the infamous Death Valley Drifter back in 1978 (in truth, he ran like a little girl while the killer basically arrested himself, but our "hero" chose not to disclose the true nature of the incident), and now he's turning over the sheriffing reins to his estranged son Harris (Michael Muhney). On his very last day, a trio of bank robbers come through his quiet little town in the middle of nowhere and stir up all kinds of trouble, including the return of "something else" that used to be the Death Valley Drifter (despite the fact this killer paid the ultimate price for his crimes long, long ago). Wouldn't you just know it? One of the bank robbers just so happened to have a relationship with a waitress at the little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that serves as the epicenter of the story -- so, yes, we not only have the tired old "father and son finally trying to get to know one another" plot, we are also treated to the dynamic of past lovers being forced back together in a crisis. From this, we somehow make the huge and unexplained leap to a soul-catcher of Indian legend terrorizing the whole community (which seems to consist of about seven people).

The whole thing really jumps the shark when an invisible barrier enclosing the whole area is discovered -- but the ridiculous plot twists don't stop there. As the story skips and jumps along, we're treated to random moments of utterly inane dialogue and increasingly unbelievable plot developments. I actually re-watched a five-minute segment toward the end thinking I must have dozed off at some point, but the problem turned out to be one completely of the writer/director's making and not a temporary loss of consciousness on my part. Now, in retrospect, I can only wish I had actually slept through some or all of this shipwreck of a movie.

Payne was apparently never quite sure just what kind of film he was making. It's horror for the most part, but the story also wanders off the plantation periodically to muddle its way through drama and black comedy. Any thoughts of taking the film even remotely seriously are dashed as soon as one character takes to wearing a garbage bag over his head. The acting also leaves much to be desired, with even familiar character actor Robert Pine turning in a rather pedestrian performance.

There are some decent titles in the Ghost House Underground Eight Film Collection (Dance of the Dead is the best of the bunch, but I also rather liked Room 205 and found The Substitute interesting), but No Man's Land is not one of them. There are just far too many problems with the whole production to make this a film worth seeing.

review by
Daniel Jolley

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new