Whenever a friend invites me to go shopping at thrift stores, I must flatly refuse to avoid triggering a series of tragic events by purchasing hexed items. It’s all fun and games thinking how cute that recently purchased chest looks as a coffee table in your living room until you accidentally summon something evil before sipping your pumpkin spice latte.
Jessica (Mary Madaline Roe) is a teenage girl trying hard to fit in and be taken seriously by her father by having what most would tag as a weird fixation for science, but she never seems to land somewhere. After the tragic loss of a family member, she finds shelter in a box of outdated electronics for her science project. Inside the box, there is an old tape recorder for which she tries to eject its tape but ends up accidentally cutting her hand and dropping some blood on it— and by now, we know that dropping blood on artifacts from the past might trigger some trapped energies to insistently try to find a way out and cause some chaos for their own benefit. Strange things start to happen and everyone is trying to assimilate the situation, but no one is the wiser to understand what is happening until it is too late and the options to trap it back are scarce.
They Reach is a comedy/horror/sci-fi film with a story set in December of 1979— because I guess the 80s were too much of a cliché. There is a big influence from past and current TV series and films that are developed on similar fictional grounds and, most of its influence, is shown during the final scenes where the action is even more packed than Cheddar’s (Eden Campbell) backpack with corn dogs.
The throwback to the year on which the story’s set is pretty much amazing and so in-your-face that it’ll submerge the viewer deeper into the feeling of the decade— the recreated era-style music, the wardrobe, the furniture, the artifacts. But, by trying to keep the era relevant and on-point, other details that added value to the story were omitted: the horror is lacking and it is supposed to be a horror film. It seems as if the director was trying to tone it down to keep it aimed at a teenage audience but it has some bloody graphic scenes that could rate it in a category that might not allow the target audience to see it.
There is a problem with the story; it starts but it never ends. Many plots are introduced for the development of the story but none of them are ever resolved and yet, somehow in a magical way, it has a conclusion. It’s also clear it’s only interested in the trajectory marked by its youthful cast and, even when the number of adult actors is greater than that of the young ones, the adults fulfill their roles as secondary characters, almost extras.
They Reach proves it has a bit of soul by throwing a repetitive cause to obtain the same nostalgic effect, but it gets lost by translating other film formulas into its own. One thing is for sure, and it is a lesson learned from similar films to this one: no matter what is threatening your safety, you can always count on science to save you.
7 OUT OF 10 CORN DOGS