Much like tacos, it can be assumed that most people like the 1970s and do not need to proactively state they’re a fan on their online dating profile; you only have 50 characters to work with anyways so make them count...
...Also, much like tacos, it can be assumed that most people wouldn’t think twice about wondering if said delicious food product was - I don’t know - possessed by a goddamn demon. A taco would need to proactively claim demonic possession for me to think twice about consuming it. Though tacos will not carry much further into this review, the 1970s and demonic possession will, because we’re watching They Reach…
Sylas Dall’s They Reach finds us, yes, in the ‘70s, and yes, with a demon. Singular in this case. What starts as a no-explanation scientist and his excessively curious son investigating a farmhouse, complete with mother dressed like it’s the 1800s, due to reports of a child being possessed. He for sure is. Then a symbol burn/appears on the wall and the scientist isn’t happy; the son is ecstatic because he’s recording all of this. Cut to the “present” (the 1970s), a stereotypical, we’ve-seen-it-a-million-times group of slight outcast, huge nerds in middle school find themselves in possession (PUN!!!) of a mysterious crate of… stuff. Main character, Jessica (Mary Madaline Roe), while grieving the recent death of her brother, comes across this crate in an antique shop kind of thing. Joined by her equally-nerdy friends, Sam (Morgan Chandler) and - the cringe-inducing - Cheddar (Eden Campbell)… yes, like the cheese … comb through the contents. They come across this thing called the “Sanguinous Demonicus” (sic), which is Albanian for “celery-themed cardigan”, and are intrigued. Intrigued to the point of Sam getting a mysterious cut on her palm. Intrigued to the point of Cheddar having this off-putting thing with a corn dog. Intrigued to the point of science fairs, badly-written family dynamics, and yet another Stranger Things/Goonies rip off. Though “rip off” is a bit harsh, there isn’t much originality going on here to make it distinct and feel more like a homage.
The direction is competent enough to do what it needs to keep things moderately amusing. As the story progresses - albeit unoriginally - we find our cast of outcasts (see what I did there?) becoming enthralled in this mysterious box, that reeks of demonic possession and whatever-the-fuck Cheddar’s thing is with corn dogs; both are equally kind of creepy. Our actors seem like they’re genuine enough, but the dialogue/writing doesn’t give them much to work with. Jessica’s father, John (Ash Calder), gives the most convincing performance, though we’re not talking ground-breaking by any means, his character is relatable and human, and less of a concept.
I’d like to take a little time to talk about the police officer who’s always eating something. Every scene we see him; eating. In the car; eating. Walking from car to house; eating. Accosting one of the kids of being guilty; eating. Eating; eating. Why? Is there some connection with Cheddar and corn dogs? It’s never revealed. This is the biggest intrigue going on.
About 75% of the way through, the movie takes a slight turn into slightly over-the-top bloody silliness. I was hoping this would continue as it made things quite entertaining (though for only about 5 minutes), but it shifts the mood drastically back into the demonic-possession old town secret business it hadn’t been doing well with for the previous hour. Original characters are reintroduced, demons are being demon-y, and this ends much like it started: unremarkable.
They Reach holds things together just enough to not be a complete disaster. I’m curious to see how Sylas Dall would do with a more original concept because the effort is certainly there. Though calling it anything intriguing would be a bit of… a reach.
They Reach is now on VOD and DVD from Uncork'd Entertainment.
By Zach Gorecki