These last couple of years there's been a constant
stream of British quality horror films. Just to name a few, think of The
Children, Mum and Dad, Eden Lake and The Broken. The Reeds is the latest to join that list, sporting some very familiar characteristics and matching the same quality standards as its peers.
The Reeds belongs to the current batch of After Dark Horror Fest
releases, who keep a healthy release schedule of 8 films per year. As
always, there's some potential-wrecking fodder in there, but one or two
of these films usually rise above the level of the rest. The Reeds is
this year's prize winner, slaying the competition with relative ease.
Grim, that's the keyword most British horror films seem to thrive on.
And The Reeds isn't any different. Set in some deserted area in
Great-Britain, the film features ominous figures, kids with hoodies,
rainy landscapes draped in washed-out colors, a dawning feeling of
emptiness and a fair amount of nastiness.
The setup is pretty simple. Three couples rent a boat and go sailing. A
seriously outdated map makes sure they get lost in nowhereland, with no
outside help possible (why do we even have cellphones). Then some
strange things start happening and events start their inevitable
downward spiral. As you can see, The Reeds is a true genre film,
embracing all the regular cliches with pride, feeling no shame at
serving something we've seen countless times before.
Visually the film is very pleasant. That is, if you like that grim and
grey British look. Somewhat grainy, devoid of bright colors, a minor
hand-held look and a camera that stays close to the main characters.
It's a tried and tested look, but one that works wonders for British
horror films. Probably something to do with the setting.
The soundtrack is equally nice. Low humming noises, slight ambient
soundscapes and some lifted sound effects. It's never in your face but
almost always present, creating a moody atmosphere that lingers
throughout the film. The acting too deserves some credit. No
award-winning performances, but for horror fodder the characters are
pretty enjoyable. Even the irritating ones are more than merely bad
actors doing a worse job at being irritating on screen.
The true strength of The Reeds lies with the blurry boundaries of its
realm. There is definitely some strange stuff going on, but the audience
is just as unaware of what is happening as is the crew of the ship. A
silent group of kids, a guy with a shotgun and some strange apparitions
haunt our main characters, but context is scarce. All we know is they
are lost among the reeds, and so is the audience.
The climax is pretty basic, but works. Apparently the ending is
advertised as shockingly surprising, though I never expected much of it
besides a simple explanation. When it comes it is a little far-fetched
but fair enough. Another one of those typical horror cliches.
The Reeds is a film that convinces through execution. When it comes to
concept, ideas, or creativity there isn't much exciting to find here.
But it is all so damn well executed that it doesn't really matter in the
end. There's a tangible tension running through the film absent in most
other horror films, which beats all the previous negative points.
Recommended for fans.
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