|Redbox Movie Art|
|Actual Movie Poster|
Redbox Synopsis: The reaper, Railroad Jack, has no mercy when it comes to torturing and slaughtering anyone who meets his eye. When a group of teens set out on a school field trip to learn about the industrial revolution, Jack has a different plan in mind for them. Ensuring the teens' school bus crashes on their way back, he lures them to a nearby carnival, where he dares to pick them off one by one. Rated R, 96 minutes, no captions
NOTE: Several readers have noted that they have not had sound or there had not been any voices while watching Jack the Reaper on DVD. I rented a copy at Redbox and was able to hear sound, so take that as it is. Please feel free to comment if you have had the same issue.
In truth, I wasn't planning on reviewing Jack the Reaper. I had planned to watch and review Evidence last night but I forgot to reserve it on Redbox.com and ended up having to play happy go lucky at my local Redbox. I ended renting Jack the Reaper, a film that previously aired on Showtime. I was ready to pan Jack the Reaper despite it winning Best Horror/Scifi film at the Cannes Independent Film Festival, so I gave it a shot. Jack the Reaper is director Kimberly Sielhamer directing debut.
Full review, ratings and awards for Jack the Reaper after the fold
Lets meet our cast of characters:
Shawn Hickey (Jay Gillespie): Despite impregnating and then leaving his girlfriend, Shawn is not as callous as his brother, Stephen. We know Shawn is sensitive because he plays his guitar at the back of the bus. Kudos for giving him a real guitar and not a rubber yellow one.
Steven Hickey (Tyler Wolfe): The obnoxious brother of Shawn and a jock. We know he is a jock because he wears a cheap practice jersey and carries around a yellow rubber football he bought at Walgreen's.
Maya (Amber Zion): Maya is the firey redhead who is Sommer's cousin. She is deaf and new to the school so of course Steven sexually harasses her. Interesting fact: Amber Zion is actually deaf and fluent in ASL.
Brian aka: "Casper" (Andrew Olsen): Brian is an albino with an alternative take-no-prisoners attitude. Brian likes to wear sunglasses even at night when his life is in danger. That is commitment to a fashion choice, my friends.
Sommer (Hope Jaymes): The sweet and naive girl, accompanying the gang on the trip to serve as an interpreter for her deaf cousin, Maya. Sommer is really excited to see Steven for some reason. Sommer is a likeable character despite not being able to spell the name "Summer."
Jesse (Alexandra Holder): Jesse is the cute, troubled. We meet Jesse as her creepy father drops her off and its implied he molests his daughter. This plot point is never touched on again.
Andre (Richardson Chery): Steve's best friend and follower and talks like Kevin Malone from The Office. Other than that, doesn't have a personality and I'm not sure why Andre's in this film.
Tyler (Jamal Draco): I honestly don't know what the deal is with this guy.
Our gang starts out to a railroad museum on a Saturday as punishment, for failing to learn about the industrial revolution. As they travel through a desert, through the grungiest windows on the face of the earth, Jessie spots the silhouette of a man on the side of the road.
They arrive and enter what appears to be not a railroad museum but a museum dedicated to minimalism.
|Behold! Everything you need to know about the Industrial Revolution: some old travel posters and unclaimed luggage!|
|Look, no streaks!|
|Or maybe not|
After the crash, the students awake to find not only the driver gone but Mr. Smith missing which really fits his teaching style. They exit the bus and see a carnival lit up in the night, they go to investigate as Jessie and Casper stay behind in the bus.
I'm not going to recap any farther as to not give away any spoilers but I do want to address one scene and some of this movie's logic. As we already know from reading the synopsis,
We find Tyler on top of the non-running ferriswheel...
|I sh!t you not, he says "I'm king of the world"|
Tyler takes a leak before the fariswheel turns on by itself causing him to fall to his death. How did he get up there in the first place? Can Railroad Jack teleport people or was Tyler killed by his own stupidity? I don't think Railroad Jack deserves credit for the kill on this one.
*MINOR SPOILER WARNING*
If Railroad Jack is indeed a grim reaper, what does that have to do with the railroad and vice-versa? More people died in Helicopter accidents last year*. Why not call him Helipad Jack and use the tagline: He's Hella-Deadly? It would have been just as easy to give Railroad Jack a scythe instead of a pickax, no?
*I was unable to source this
*END SPOILER WARNING*
Sound: The sound mix on Jack the Reaper is remarkably well done and sound effects are impressive for an indie film. The one problem is the absence of closed captioning. While normal for indie films to not have captions, the absence is glaring when you have a deaf person as one of your leads. Especially if you wanted to have Amber sign "Easter Eggs" for everyone that knows ASL, but no closed captioning means you are cutting out your hearing impaired audience. Speaking of which...
Hott Hottness Award™: Today's award goes to Amber Zion and her portrayal of Maya in Jack the Reaper. You may know Amber from the Kay Jewelers commercials at Christmas time.
Amber looks older than a high school student. Thanks to her hearing disability, she is spared some of the hokey dialog in the film*. Amber emotes so well, the need for any dialog is moot anyway.
Hott Hottness Award ™!
You can see more of Amber's work at her site and make sure to follow Amber on Twitter HERE and like her Facebook Page HERE
*I have to give credit to the screenwriters of Jack the Reaper: Thank you for not using the worn-out Hollywood, "My grandmother/favorite aunt/little sister/cousin was deaf so I know sign language" trope for Shawn and Maya a connection scene.
Overall: Dispite the clunky setup, his film has an interesting, if disjointed, concept and a decent twist ending, though it's one that's telegraphed mid-film. Cut this film some slack for the lack of graphic kills due to budget constraints and I consider Jack the Reaper as more of a sci-fi than a horror film anyway. Railroad Jack is a fairly scary villain, though the kills aren't novel. There is no nudity in the film (sorry fellas) which is curious since it has some graphic violence and language. The characters are a bit thin but it's forgivable as there's no main character. Though the dialog is a tad on the hokey side and the acting is hit or miss, the sci-fi angle is enough to keep you interested in the film for 86 minutes. While I wouldn't consider Jack the Reaper an instant classic or a must see,if you are fan of the b-rate horror/sci-fi, it's a nice little indie film and worth a rental at Redbox 6.5/10
Final Verdict: I'd rent that for a dollar!
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