Sarah and Alex, injured in a crash a year before, head back to the same woods to look for answers.
Ugly mug monsters. Humans with rock hard heads living according to the lyrics of ’90s band Chumbawamba’s hit Tubthumper: “I get knocked down, but I get up again”. Woods teeming with dodgy locals.
Reed’s Point has too much thrown into the mix to work — monstrous legends, family feuds, a possible psychological solution that I may or may not have imagined — though it’s not entirely without merit if you don’t think too hard about some aspects and maybe think a little harder about others. It’s also only 78 minutes long. The ending is a damp squib, but director Dale Fabrigar does offer us an impressive monster.
A collision between a luxury RV and a deer on a dark night leaves only Sarah and Alex as definite survivors of the ensuing crash, with Sarah’s cousin Kelsey Franklin dragged off into the forest by someone or something, and everyone else — Kelsey’s wealthy father Greg, their driver and hostess — dead. Despite a massive local search after the crash, no sign of Kelsey is found.
Twelve months on, Sarah (Sasha Anne) and Kelsey’s boyfriend Alex (Evan Adams), now journalism students, decide to delve further into the both crash and the legend of the Jersey Devil, alleged to reside in the same woods and held responsible for many a disappearance down the years. Kelsey (Madison Ekstrand) is still missing, and, to add to the mystery, it turns out her father also owned disputed lands in the area.
Sarah remains convinced her cousin is still alive, and becomes even more determined to investigate when Alex tells her about a feud going back generations between the Reeds, a local Pine Barrens family, and the Franklins themselves.
I don’t know what the line is between amateur investigative journalism and unprepared dimwittedness — maybe it’s dependent on your eventual success? But the pair do seem spectacularly ill-equipped for their return to the woods where it happened, despite a year of brooding and googling.
They go into the area with local guide Hank (an enjoyably is-he-a-bad-‘un performance from Anthony Jensen), without even a backpack between them, only 90 minutes before nightfall. Their college newspaper editor Max (Julia Kelly) is even dafter, following them there in her car to make sure they’re ok, arriving in the dark then walking into those same woods with no idea where she’s going and no one knowing that she’s there.
Once in the trees, accompanied by the dodgy Hank, and with the light fading, Alex is injured and incapacitated; but what’s after them? Is it human or paranormal? What did it do with Kelsey? And who lives in the cottage in the woods? (For once it’s not a middle-aged witchy woman.)
The movie is clunky and awkward initially, with odd pauses and risible dialogue, badly delivered: “I know it sounds crazy but bad blood never dies!” declares Sarah. Sasha Anne (apparently an influencer) has a grating monotone, and while in some ways it fits her character (intrepid, determined, traumatised), at this point there’s little actorly range there. There are some decent performances; Jensen in particular looks like he’s having a ball.
The last 20 minutes of Reed’s Point do get silly, with the ending both predictable and unsatisfactory. With so many people whacking each other over the head and running round the woods, and monsters a-go-go, it feels messy rather than scary. I’m starting to yearn for a low budget horror that has a proper unmasking flourish along the lines of “and I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids!”.
There are threads that are left hanging (including the origins of the crash) and ideas hinted at obliquely — sometimes too obliquely. Reed’s Point is marketed as part psychological thriller, and it swerves into that territory before pulling back. Whether down to over-enthusiastic editing or too-opaque writing, I was never sure if I was picking up on a partially-laid trail of breadcrumbs or seeing something that wasn’t there.
The creature looks awful, but in a good way, and I was pleased we actually see it in the film and the publicity material. It’s a proper presence, whether real or paranormal, rather than simply shrieks and shadows and strange noises in the woods. I won’t deny I also liked the continuation for horror film himbos to have the best hair (see also The Resort).
Reed’s Point is out on digital and DVD in the US on 12 April 2022
Watch the trailer now: