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After Dark Horrorfest 2010 Review: 'The Reeds'

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At first glance, the UK horror flick The Reeds looks and feels a lot like another recent UK horror flick. Remove the drugs and the sexual problems from Oliver Blackburn's darkly amusing Donkey Punch, and that's what The Reeds feels like. For at least the first half-hour or so. From that point it becomes sort of a '70s-style atmospheric horror tale with just enough juice to get across the finish line. Very little in The Reeds is remarkably new, but there's always room for another well-told campfire tale, provided it's told with a little bit of style. And splatter.

We open with three young couples who plan to rent a boat from a local, and spend some time partying ... amongst the reedy shallows of  a massive river. (Why these six partiers believe this is a good place to entertain themselves I have no idea.) One enjoyably shocking accident leads to the discovery of a small patch of land -- on which are found a pack of violent youths and a mysterious hooded figure with a shotgun. (And a whole lot of shells.) The body count rises as the survivors, the young punks, and the hunter chase each other across (yep) the reeds, and it all culminates in a small series of jumps and twists -- most of which you'll see coming, but maybe not all of them.

Well-shot for a low-budget effort, appropriately well-paced for such a basic type of horror story, and populated by a few actors who actually know what they're doing (lead actress Anna Brewster is one to watch), The Reeds is a competent and compelling enough little horror flick, provided you're not expecting it to be the next big thing to hit the genre. Director Nick Cohen manages to keep his fairly familiar tale from ever becoming dull, and the guy keeps finding new ways to make such a generic location look somewhat interesting. (There are only so many ways you can shoot reeds,after all.)

Impressively restrained in some spots, slightly strained in others, and actually kind of creepy here and there, The Reeds is an unassuming little genre flick that doesn't tread any new ground, but it'd still fit the bill on a late Saturday night. One of the better offerings from After Dark Batch #4, I don't mind saying.

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