They Reach review

Directed by Sylas Dall
Mary Madaline as Jessica Daniels
Morgan Chandler as Sam
Eden Campbell as Cheddar
Ash Calder as John Daniels
Frederick Floyd as Sheriff Charlie Wells
Taylor Bartle as Alex Quinney

“They Reach” is what supposed to be a supernatural possession film turns to be a creature film. It borrows many elements from different well-known and popular horror films out there. It did, however, has the atmosphere from the hit TV series “Stranger Things.” The story takes place in 1979 and centering a high school teen, Jessica (Mary Madaline), who stumbled on a supposedly possessed tape recorder at an antique store. Not knowing what the tape recorder capable to do, she brings it home and accidentally cut herself while helping out her father (Ash Calder) and bleeding out on top of the tape recorder that unleashed a demonic creature that haunts their family. With the help from her best friends, Sam (Morgan Chandler) and Cheddar (Eden Campbell), together they embark a journey to stop the demonic creature with the guidance of her father, his sheriff friend (Frederick Floyd) and Alex Quinney (Taylor Bartle) a priest that had the experience to deal with the demon in the past.

The film opens with a prologue where we see Alex Quinney and his 
father, who are trying to document on a priest that’s trying to stop a possessed young boy but failed to succeed as the boy dies and his blood, which is supposed to be possessed since it comes out from the boy, flooding on the table through his tape recorder. This what supposedly makes the tape recorder possessed by the demon creature. Then, we fast forward to present time in 1979, where Jessica finds the tape recorder at an antique store, as she brings it home, not knowing what kind of hell she’ll unleash. Late at night while she is helping her dad in the basement, she accidentally cut herself and bleeding out on top of the tape recorder. Since then, strange occurrence starts happening. Eventually, her wounds on her hands formed a strange symbol. A symbol that we saw earlier in the prologue. 

Afterward, she starts 
seeing things, like a ghost or spirit that impersonate her mother, the demon even impersonate Jessica herself in the school gym. But here is the thing, the opening of the film is great, from act 1 through out end act 2, although obviously it borrows many possession films out there, selling us that this is actually a demonic possession film, which is nothing wrong. Then, act 3 hits, the story takes a different turn. At this point we have not seen anyone in the film being possessed, not even Jessica, which the demon supposedly is trying to feed her soul since it was her blood that spilled on the tape recorder. Instead, we are getting a creature feature. The demon creature is haunting them one by one like a werewolf film, where it lurks in the dark and kills them. The only way to stop them is to re-open the gate back to where they came from. Sure enough that’s pretty interesting, of course many movies are like that, re-open the gate and send them back to where they come from, such as 1987’s The Gate (starring Stephen Dorff) and many other films. The gore and violence are outstanding for the horror lovers, but the only problem is, if this movie was sold as a possession film, then it should have been about a possession film with someone or the main cast, Jessica should be possessed, although in the end we did see her eyes turn black after she faces the creature in front of the gate, right before she turns the rewind button on the tape recorder. But, that’s it? That’s her being possessed for 1 quick second? It is a possession film, but instead we have a slice and dice slasher creature film. It’s still entertaining but it just doesn’t make any sense when the demon is out for her soul but killing others like a werewolf or type of creature. For example with the scene when Sheriff Charles Wells was trying to help out his partner in the sheriff office under the desk, we see the partner got sucked in then splashed with his partner’s blood all over Sheriff Charles’ face. 

Look at The Conjuring, we see the possession then of course the strange occurrence that gave us the creep then we see how the demon doesn’t kill instead possessing whoever crosses its path. Even in 1982’s The Amityville Horror II: The Possession, the demon possessed a human being then kills the family member by using the human as its host. We are talking about demon, a powerful entity that possess human to take over their body, so the killing should be possessing a human as the host. Sure, we get those hands coming out underneath the car or any other dark corners, like in The Other Side of the Door or even Insidious series, we still see the demon possessing their host throughout the film and gave us all the dark, gloomy and creepiness.

Here is one thing that I have to admire about the director, Sylas Dall, he was able to bring these characters to the next level, their 
relationships were well executed. The acting with the kids are phenomenal, Cheddar (Eden Campbell) is definitely a stealer. She is funny, hilarious and just stole the show. Not too many kid actors are able to be that hilarious. No filter, and just be herself. Campbell understood where Cheddar came from. We don’t need to dig back to her back story but we already have the feel what kind of relationship she has with her parents and where they’re coming from. The chemistry between Sam and Jessica are totally there, we felt the sadden when Sam dies. We care about the characters. Mary Madaline who plays the genious Jessica was able to capture the character as a nerd who loves alien and science fiction but at the same time, she was able to hide that nerdiness in public. Morgan Chandler who played Sam also did a great job, he was able to bring Sam to the level that he likes Jessica and he doesn’t know if Jessica likes him that way but trying to be careful as possible to confront that by not losing his friendship with her. Sylas Dall’s direction with the kids are fantastic, considering this is his first feature, that is one hell of an amazing job to direct these kids to the point we feel something about them, their chemistry, their relationship among the three of them. Dall was able to convey that throughout.

Overall, the film gave the frightening feeling in the prologue but 
afterward the film lacks of scariness that didn’t give us goosebumps however, the dark settings ware great. It’s more entertaining to see the creature slices and dices instead of being creeped out by it. The movie is still fun, just that if we sell it as a possession film from the get go, then it should be about possession instead of a lose demon on a rampage slicing and dicing like a creature feature. It would be more interesting to see how the kids witnessing and handling the possession with the help from the priest. It’s still a fun and entertaining film to see, if the horror lovers don’t care about the possession and just want to see slice and dice with tons of blood with the feel of creature feature, this is it! This is your film to own. My score is 3 of 5 score.

“They Reach” will be on VOD and DVD/Bluray from Uncork’d Entertainment 
on November 3rd, 2020.