The Mangler Reborn (2005)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror
A decade after the original massacre, another man obsessed over his machine ends with several murders and possession. --IMDb
Matt Cunningham Matt Cunningham
Erik Gardner Erik Gardner
Aimee Brooks Aimee Brooks
Reggie Bannister Reggie Bannister
Weston Blakesley Weston Blakesley
Scott Speiser Scott Speiser
Juliana Dever Juliana Dever
Movie Connections:
The Mangler
> The Mangler (1995)
> The Mangler Reborn (2005)

4.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: December 16, 2005
In part three of the Mangler series, we find a movie that completely ignores part two and only pulls the main ideas from the original. Normally, I would be up in arms about this decision; why make a sequel to a movie and then proceed to ignore everything that has been laid out in the storyline thus far? However, I'm willing to make an exception with this movie; the source material (Stephen King's short story) was a damned fine story, the original movie adaptation was mediocre at best, and the sequel... well, I've yet to see it, but I've also yet to hear any favorable remarks towards it. So, here we are - a movie that features that bastard machine from the original, yet is otherwise completely separated from the series.

It all begins when the friendly neighborhood repairman Hadley (Weston Blakesley) purchases the parts that were used to create the original Mangler. Why he felt the need to purchase these parts is never explained, and although it would have been nice to get some insight into this, it's not terribly important in the grand scheme of the movie. The fact of the matter is that he has the parts in an upstairs room and has gone through great lengths to (sort of) restore the machine to its original state. At this point, he starts hearing voices that command him to supply the machine with fresh blood, so he decides that his wife should be the first one fed into the machine.

OK, I'll admit that it's a bit silly at this point, but let's continue. Hadley is called to the house of young Jaime (Aimee Brooks) thanks to a leaking washing machine, and instead of merely fixing the machine and collecting a paycheck, he decides to bash her in the back of her head with a mallet with the intent of supplying her body to the machine. He brings her back to his house, locks her in a room, and then proceeds to leave to go to his next house-call. This is ample opportunity for Rick (Reggie Bannister) and Mike (Scott Speiser), a father-and-son team of burglars, to decide that this house is worthy of burglarizing... yet, as they soon find out, the house is rigged to allow easy entry, but is damned near impossible to escape. The remainder of the movie deals with a group of people (I'm not saying how many) trying to escape both the house and the maniacal, mallet-wielding Hadley.

As mentioned at the start of the previous paragraph, I'll easily admit that the opening storyline is a bit silly: a laundry machine that speaks to a repairman and demands human sacrifices? It's pretty laughable, and the ending... well, I hate spoiling movies, so I'm not even going to touch that part of the film. However, the meat of the movie was surprisingly good, and I was quite shocked at the rating I was thinking of passing on to this movie while I watched the credits roll. I've pretty well established that this machine is what caused Hadley to snap and I've also covered the fact that he murders people to feed to this machine. Yes, that is silly, and technically, that's the basis for the movie... however, the majority of the movie simply deals with "the group" trying to avoid death and escape the house. This is where the movie shines, as it's actually very well done and the suspense level is excellently built up as things move along.

Directors Erik Gardner & Matt Cunningham have done an excellent job at setting up the scares in such a way that they are, for the most part, completely unexpected and will leave you on the edge of your seat wondering just what will happen next. I particularly enjoyed how they knew what the audience would be expecting, and instead of filling in these blanks with the typical "BOO!" scare, they went out of their way to shock those in the audience. As a spoiler-free example, I'll point to one particular scene where Rick is burglarizing the house. We see him in an upstairs bedroom, rummaging through a dresser, and the camera is positioned to be level with his crouched person... in other words, we don't see the door and we don't have a view of where Hadley could enter the room. He stands up, the music score builds in intensity, and we have a clear shot of both the open door and the stairs outside of it. With the score continuing to build, Rick crouches back down, once again obscuring our view of the bedroom door, and when he stands up... you're completely expecting to be faced with Hadley, but he's not there. Nothing happens, at all... and just when you think that you've been had and are once again getting comfortable with the slow pace, there he is. The grand majority of the scares are done in this fashion, and to me, they were beautifully done.

My only complaint with this film deals with the chosen cast members. Sure, it's a low-budget film and I shouldn't have expected award-winning performances, but some of these people were beyond bad. Reggie Bannister (of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep fame) makes a small cameo appearance and is excellent in his role. Although he is only briefly involved with the movie, he definitely leaves an impression. Scott Speiser, who plays Reggie's son Mike, is decent enough in his role; he's not perfect, but he wasn't bad enough to bitch about either. The problem with the cast lies squarely on the shoulders of the damsel-in-distress, the star of the movie, young Aimee Brooks. The woman is completely horrid in this particular role, and there were a number of scenes where the mood was completely broken due to me breaking out in laughter at her general ineptitude in front of the camera. I would say that one of those clueless blond bimbos from the likes of, say, 1987's Sorority House Massacre could have done a better job in the leading role, but then I see that Mrs. Brooks was involved with that film as well. It all makes sense now, but I'm still not the least bit satisfied with the choice of her in the leading role.

Overall, the movie does have a few flaws, but it's still a damned entertaining horror film. If you can get past the silly basis of the film and ignore the stigma that is attached to the Mangler title thanks to a couple of failed attempts at bringing it to life on-screen, you'll enjoy this one. I know that I certainly did. 7/10.
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