No Man’s Land – The Rise of Reeker is a sequel to the 2005 film Reeker (review). Reeker was a splendidly original film and, though No Man’s Land treads the same territory as its predecessor, it manages to offer something a little new along with more of the same.
No Man’s Land opens with a rather surprising kill (as long as you haven’t seen the trailer) as we are introduced to the Death Valley Drifter, a serial killer who plied his trade in the late seventies before he was finally captured and executed. He claimed that his crimes were practice for the role he was fated to play after death.
Thirty years later, the cop who’d caught the Death Valley Drifter prepares to hand the reins of sheriff over to his long-estranged son, Harris, played by Michael Muhney (Veronica Mars). Meanwhile, though, a trio of armed robbers come through the small town, take a young waitress hostage, and initiate a shoot out which leads to an explosion and a tell-tale (to those who’ve seen Reeker) rumble.
And that’s when the weirdness begins. What weirdness, you ask? Well, there’s the bird that flies across the sky—despite the fact its feathers are on fire. There’s the invisible wall keeping the characters from leaving the motel in which they’re holed up. There’s the dude who gets half his skull caved in and, given that he’s still alive and conscious, deals with it by wearing a plastic bag over his head.
Like the first film, the special effects are excellent, but this time they go beyond straight gore, mixing in a little sci-fi/fantasy to up the weirdness.
The characters aren’t exactly deep, but the Final Girl in particular is well-defined as the independent, no-nonsense sort. She’s easy to root for.
And there’s Reeker. In this film we learn a little more about our friend Reeker, including where he got that gas mask, why he wears it, and why his means of murder are often mechanized. For those who’ve seen the first movie, these tid-bits should only add to the enjoyment. Reeker’s kills are more fun once you know that they hint at a character’s ultimate end.
Despite Reeker’s origin being pseudo-mystical in nature, it works here—unlike in, say, Freddy’s Dead or Jason Goes to Hell. Here the filmmakers have done good by the supernatural origin story.
But No Man’s Land is not a perfect film; the editing, in particular, is sometimes sloppy, so that some scenes seem stitched together with little regard, which can be deadly in a film with an already confusing plot. This is especially true for those viewers who have not yet seen Reeker. My suggestion: watch the first film first.
The filmmakers also seem to have a borderline obsession with building scenes, and even plot points, around toilets. Honestly, a group could build a pretty fun drinking game around spotting moments in which a toilet or septic tank plays an integral role. Come to think of it, that’s somewhat true of the first film as well, though not nearly to the same extent. Anyway, it’s a little weird, and the filmmakers might want to exercise a bit of self-examination regarding their apparent fondness for the scatological, but it doesn’t detract from the film itself.
Overall, No Man’s Land is a solid sequel that builds on the original. Definitely worth a watch.
Length: 88 min