Movie Review: “They Reach” aims awfully low

The rise of “Stranger Things” and the revival of Stephen King’s “It” inspired “They Reach,” a horror tale/period piece in which kid are under threat, and take responsibility for their own deliverance.

It’s a case study in the difference between smart writing with pathos and wit, and witless imitation, between “barely adequate” child actors and ones with charisma that the camera catches.

A prologue shows us father-son demonic possession researchers stumbling into something awful in 1969. Dad’s copy of the “Sanguinium Demonium” (book) should have protected them. Or his .38 snub nose. But no.

Ten years later, science “nerd” and tinkerer Jessica (Mary Madaline Roe) stumbles across the reel to reel recorder that that earlier team recorded their encounter with. Trying to fix it, she cuts herself. Blood is spilled and…damn — a Demonic Nagra tape recorder!

Whispers start in the house. Everybody starts seeing things.

Luckily Jessica has 13 year-old pals, noble and true — Sam (Morgan Chandler) and Cheddar (Edan Campbell.

Quick, grab your Spider Bikes! “To the library! They have these things called BOOKS.”

Yes, that’s real dialogue from this dawdling, dumb dive into demons — how to get them, how to “send them back” through “the doorway.”

A Couple of passable effects show us that “doorway.” Characters are yanked out of the frame, with gooey fake blood splattered all over everything and everyone left behind in the camera frame.

Period touches include kids singing “I Wanna be Sedated,” and my favorite — a ’70s Dodge Charger smoking when it starts, “dieseling” when they try to shut it off.

Just like new!

There would be no movie without overt “borrowings” from Stephen King. That’s not the worst idea. “No movie,” I mean.

The one interesting character, mistakenly assuming what they’re dealing with is “a werewolf” and thus insistent a “silver bullet” will solve their troubles, has the most telling name.

What is Cheddar, kids? How’s it describe this movie?

MPA Rating: unrated, violent images, profanity, smoking

Cast: Mary Madaline Roe, Morgan Chandler, Edan Campbell, Ash Calder, Elizabeth Rhoades

Credits: Directed by Sylas Dall, script by Sylas Dall and Dry Troyer An Unrock’d release.

Running time: 1:28

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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