The Movie Waffler New to Amazon Prime Video - THEY REACH | The Movie Waffler

New to Amazon Prime Video - THEY REACH

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A group of teens unleash a demon from a possessed tape player.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Sylas Dall

Starring: Mary Madaline Roe, Morgan Chandler, Eden Campbell, Kyan Zielinski, Elizabeth Rhoades, Ash Calder

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It's 1969 and Dad (Dr Quinley) and his son Alex are racing to help Mrs Burghardt, whose son Michael is showing clear signs of devilment with his basement dwelling and disturbing drawings of violence.

She has also called a priest, much to Alex’s annoyance – “we are conducting a scientific study here”.

Shocking devilish things occur and then we cut to 10 years later.

Heading straight from her older brother's funeral to an antique store where she buys a box of items labelled ‘trash’, our 12 year old heroine Jessica (Mary Madaline Roe) has no idea that she’s picked up something more sinister than she bargained for.

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The family moves on from the death of her brother quicker than you can say ‘science project’ and we are thrown fairly quickly into Jessica’s social and home-life.

We learn there is puppy love brewing, and that she is always being a tomboy and playing with things in Dad's shed; but when she accidentally bleeds on a possessed reel-to-reel, you know it’s gunna be bad.

We are introduced to her two endlessly obnoxious and irritating friends, Cheddar (Eden Campbell) and Sam (Morgan Chandler).

Our trio have to find out the secrets behind the demonic possession threat looming over them, and they do so with the help of Alex Quinley from the prelude, and the grumpy librarian who turns out to be an occult fanatic.

Their situation goes from bad to worse as it seems they have to do battle with an evil entity looking for the marked one who is, you guessed it, Jessica (who is as untroubled by the massive wound on her hand as she seems to be about sibling grief).

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It feels longer than its hour and a half runtime, but nevertheless, the finale, when it comes, is unexpected and I enjoyed the ideas behind it.

The gore is plentiful, which gives it an uneven tone as the mix doesn’t work as well as it has in other similar fare. The mostly practical effects work well and are one of the stronger components here.

The cinematography by James Winters is quite lovely, the score by Carlos Garcia is effective and the direction by Sylas Dall is actually very good, but it’s let down by other elements.

Unfortunately the acting is somewhat stilted; the main child actors all have potential but need a little longer to develop their skills; the adults are a tad wooden but overall acceptable, while lesser cast members falter.

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Obviously attempting to ride the IT and Stranger Things wave, this lacks the charm and heart of those projects. The ‘scares’, though more gross than frightening, are not bad however, with one ‘chopping board’ scene sticking with me for some time afterwards.

There’s not a strong sense of time with regards to the decade this story is supposed to be based in – the '70s. It manages to avoid the obvious cliches but perhaps in doing so it misses era indicators altogether. It really could be set in any decade. In fact, I’d say it feels more like a '90s set movie than a '70s one. From the clothes, hair styles, decor and attitudes, not a thing feels authentic to the era it's meant to be set in, which is a shame.

The ‘potato-light’ is a thing of beauty, but the movie itself is a little undercooked.

They Reach is on Amazon Prime Video UK now.