We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Supernatural horror cheapy "Phantasm: Ravager," the fourth (and hopefully last) sequel to Don Coscarelli's 1979 horror gem "Phantasm," is for established fans only. Sure, the film's creators do their due diligence, and try to get newcomers up to speed with flashbacks that allude to the by-now unnecessarily convoluted story of three friends' decades-long struggle to defeat the Tall Man, an evil body-snatching under-taker from another dimension. And "Ravager" does have an internal logic that makes its time and subplot-jumping story easy to follow. But this new "Phantasm" will not be of interest to anyone who doesn't already know who the Tall Man is, or why he needs to be stopped. The stakes are higher this time—apparently, the Tall Man wants to dominate the world now!—and the characters' back stories are a little clearer. And there are a lot of pleasing callbacks to the previous films. But there's nothing so viscerally exciting in "Ravager" that newcomers have to see.
Like "Phantasm" before it, "Phantasm: Ravager" has a shambling dream logic that can be attributed to individual characters' subjective points-of-view. In the first "Phantasm," young Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) may or may not be projecting his adolescent fears of death onto the Tall Man (recently-deceased horror icon Angus Scrimm), his flying silver sphere heralds and his cloaked little people minions. "Phantasm: Ravager" has a similar logic, but the film isn't Mike's story.
In fact, "Ravager" is the first film to be told from the perspective of Reggie (Reggie Bannister), a happy-go-lucky ice cream man who vowed to stop the Tall Man after his family was, uh, blown up by Scrimm's inhuman villain. Reggie, like us, yearns for a sense of closure from his adventures. But he, now significantly older, can't think straight: his mind flashes back-and-forth between three competing timelines, one that takes place after the last sequel, one set in a far-flung future where the Tall Man has conquered the world, and one in a divergent timeline where Reggie's a doddering, dementia-addled old man in a retirement home.
This, understandably, makes Reggie confused. Thankfully, there's an internal logic and a lot of hand-holding expository voiceover narration to keep viewers oriented. Reggie, motivated by his sense of obligation to Mike's deceased older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), still feels obligated to take care of Mike.