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2.7 out of 5 stars
Jack the Reaper
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2013
If you enjoyed this review, check out my horror blog at: brandoncsites.blogspot.com

Jack the Reaper (2011) *
D: Kimberly Seilhamer
C: Tony Todd, Sally Kirkland, Douglas Tait
P: A bus carrying a group of high school students on a field trip crashes in the middle of a long stretch of desert. To occupy their time, the kids check out a nearby carnival that is supposedly haunted by a creature known as Railroad Jack, a creature that is intent on laying claim to souls and ushering them into the afterlife.

Anytime the plot revolves around a big plot twist, that plot twist needs to either be interesting, unpredictable and/or shocking. The main problem with Jack the Reaper, is that the plot twist is rather predictable. We've all seen it a million times before and we've seen it done a million times before far more interestingly. So what we're left with is a film that drags from one scene to next for well over an hour, waiting for the main characters to figure out what is going on, so that the film can be over with and we can get back to our lives.

Tony Todd & Sally Kirkland have only one scene and there one scene is towards the beginning of the film. They both turn in competent performances, but they only have one scene so there is only so much that they can do to try and salvage this film. The film takes place at a carnival, but somehow or another the filmmaker's find to fail the nostalgia and whimsy in a carnival setting.

Jack the Reaper was flawed to begin with due to a fundamentally weak story, but the film fails to use some of the positive things that were at its disposal in a meaningful way such as a better then average cast and a setting that is classic & timeless. Jack the Reaper is the type of film that you watch while paying bills, doing household chores, answering e-mails, etc. [R] 86 mins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2015
Ahhh, death be not proud. The obtusely named horror indie 'Jack the Reaper' (2011)-- I use a form of the word 'obtuse' because if there were even one hapless viewer out there who mightn't be able to guess in the first 15 minutes the 'twist' ending to the film all he need do is consider its dead-giveaway title-- is a moldy ragbag of overused genre cliches (the creators of 'Jeepers Creepers' meet the cast of 'Final Destination' to discuss the plot of 'Carnival of Souls' while watching 'The Funhouse') borrowing most of its style and aesthetic cues from the worst of '80s no-budget teen-gore cinema. No sense in getting into the poor acting, sloppy editing, amateurish camerawork or high-school-caliber writing (don't worry-- it's all there), as your average B-grade-slasher-flick junkie generally can cope with any or all of these irritants to get his bloody fix; but here the incoherent stitching together of disparate story elements to somehow make a Frankenstein's monster of a movie is done with such a magnificent lack of imagination and instict it's absolutely confounding. For example, aside from having to endure the perfunctorily idiotic behavior of our busload of 'stranded' dimwits, we're forced to ponder, as I eluded to earlier, why the already-hackneyed myth of pick-wielding 'Railroad Jack'-- who, with his inexplicable dental and ocular impairments, reminds one embarrassingly of Tom Noonan's axe-wielding 'Ripper' from the awful quasi-horror/action spoof 'The Last Action Hero'-- has been supplanted by the titular, scythe-wielding 'Jack the Reaper.' Did the marketing team at 'Mad Crapper' have veto power, or did the screenwriter/director forget her central character's designation between spitballing sessions? Who is the woman offering the cryptic 'souls and disciples' narration as the kids arrive at the railroad museum and where did she come from? (If it's Sally Kirkland/Nana, how was she compelled not only to appear in but co-produce this mess?) Why is the Candyman giving impromptu lectures at said railroad museum dressed like a stereotype of a 1970s Broadway-musical director? And what in the Mojave Desert has Hell's county fair got to do with the railroad anyway? I grew up on cheesy, sleazy horror of all kinds, folks, and have never been ashamed of it, but this is bad stuff. Bad, bad stuff. 1/2 star.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 19, 2013
Jack the Reaper is one of those little surprises that I totally wasn't expecting to enjoy, especially given how the movie is not exactly a box office smash. Since it's a really unpopular movie that obviously flew under the radar and went unnoticed, and given the mixed reviews here on amazon (in fact "mixed" is being generous- most people strongly dislike the movie) I'm rather happy with the film overall.

Tony Todd, as some of you may remember from the Candyman horror series, continues to freak me out! Seriously he's one very freaky presence in horror movies. Must be the frightening look in his eyes. Anyway his role in Jack the Reaper is rather tame- he simply shares the history of a desert location and warns a group of teens about a certain Jack the Reaper that roams around. Something like "Once he sees you, he already has you". Of course you can probably guess what this is- it's a teen slasher movie.

While I believe the acting is below average, the deaths are few and far between (it takes forever to get to the first one in fact- like over an hour), and the bad guy is nothing more than a pale faced alien-like creature (ha, pale in the desert, guess who's been hiding in the tricky mirror room all day!) what this movie does well is make each of the teens memorable. They're all different in their own little ways- the chubby boy gets picked on by the others, another kid is a misfit or an outsider, another is a deaf girl, the other is an impatient easily annoyed Asian girl, one of the popular boys decides to finally man up and promise he'll be there for his pregnant girlfriend through thick and thin, etc. Everyone's unique in their own little way. I respect a horror film that devotes time building characters. That way we care about them when they die.

And let's not overlook the atmosphere either- a crashed bus in the middle of the night out in the desert (nowhere) and the curious teens get an urge to visit a nearby abandoned carnival they spot in the distance. By the way, why does it seem like all horror movies that have carnivals have to make them abandoned? Why are the lights on? Haha, one of those little inconsistencies that has become a frequent recurrence, and I never understood why. Small rant.

Overall, Jack the Reaper is a great movie. The actual Jack the Reaper is nothing more than a crazy demon swinging a scythe around, but I suppose that's all that's really needed here. Of course the moment when the teens are confronted by him and do absolutely nothing but let him kill their classmate... odd moment there. At least *try* to save the kids life, darn it! Still, Jack's a pretty mean figure. He has no eyeballs whatsoever and is quite the surprise upclose. Gotta say, he's a passable killer. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The film opens with narration about Jack the Reaper. Apparently RR accidents have their own special reaper. A group of high school kids on a field trip encounter a bus accident at a RR crossing. There is a nearby carnival where they go for help, but end up playing games as the carnival is deserted. Jack shows up and the carnage begins. The "twist" we already have figured out. Tony Todd has a minor role.

This slasher doesn't bring anything new to the table. Harold's grandmother was a hoot, but outside of that, the character were simply okay with jocks, a fat kid, a picked on albino, an oriental girl, a blond floozy with her deaf-mute cousin, plus a girl with daddy issues. There are too many characters to develop them all, so we are given quick intros as they load the bus.

It is a so-so slasher with the mute girl screaming when she gets hit with a pick.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity. It appeared on TV as a Movie Channel extra.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2014
Jack the reaper to me is a mix of jeepers creepers 2,reeker and funhouse. It was alright just didn't have enough gore (for my taste). Tony todd and sally kirkland for being the big stars in this movie are in it for a few minutes each.Good potential but lack of gore makes me give it 3 stars. Right now you can catch it on showtime so try to catch it there before actually buying.
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on October 4, 2014
A group of high school teens and their teacher are out on a Saturday school field trip to learn about the industrial revolution as punishment for failing to complete a research about it. Once they arrive to their destination, they stop at a railroad museum where they're given a quick recap of the town's railroad history by a man simply known as Steel and warns the group that many people who have crossed the other side of the town's railroad have usually never made it back or gotten trapped in a fatal crossroads accident.

Not buying too much into Steel's story, the group crosses over the town's railroad anyway, leading them into a deserted ghost-town like-area and get in a bad bus accident shortly after, knocking them all unconscious. When they awake several hours later, it's night time and the teens realize that their teacher and bus driver is missing. They notice a carnival off in the distance, where they go to search for help only to find out it's completely deserted. Thinking they're all alone; the students split in different pairs to find help. Little do they know that a murderous spirit by the name of Railroad Jack, lurks the park and plans on picking them all off one by one. All the while, the teens' journey is seemingly being narrated by an unseen evil entity by the name of Violet who is supposedly connected with the legend of Railroad Jack

Overall: Jack The Reaper is decently put together. A lot of the kill scenes done in this film are pretty gruesome in their own way. It could be said that the plot is very cliche since it involves a group of teens with stereotypical characters, by themselves in the middle of nowhere; but Jack The Reaper takes that cliche plot and turns it into something a bit different. Tony Todd (Candyman) makes a short appearance in the film as the railroad museum docent, Steel. The acting from the cast is fairly performed and the movie overall has a creepy vibe to it. From the dark setting to the creepy, unseen spirit narrating the film off and on throughout. Overall, Jack The Reaper is watchable once--maybe twice, but definitely not a movie you'll consider popping in the DVD player on occasion.
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on April 25, 2015
While "Jack the Reaper" is an above average little horror flick, it didn't contain anything new or amazing. But for a low budget dumb horror movie it surpassed my (low) expectations. The story is pretty basic, stereotyped high schoolers go on a field trip and get stranded in the middle of the desert adjacent to an empty but functional carnival. The acting, well let's face it, none of them were going to win an Oscar, but for our purposes it didn't need to be stellar. Those who are watching for Tony Todd will be disappointed, not because he didn't perform, but because he is in the movie for like 5 minutes. However a few of the characters I found appealing and hoped for their survival, but this is a pretty standard film as far as the plot goes and of course our monstrous villan manages to dispel my hopes for that. The effects were minimal and not that great, but the carnival was pretty cool and creepy, and the score was a combo of carny music and heavy metal which worked surprisingly well.This movie does have a twist ending, but for those who have seen movies like "Dead End" and "Reeker" will be familiar and see it coming after the first twenty or so minutes. Even though I give it three stars, its more like 3.5/5 because I did enjoy the movie, it just didn't stand out.
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on October 3, 2014
I think this movie had a lot of potential, but some problems with the script and editing never allowed it to rise above being just mediocre. For starters, there is a narrator that feels woefully out of place. It almost feels like she belonged in another movie at times. The big "twist" is pretty much given away right after the accident when we hear about fatalities on a police intercom. I'm not sure why the filmmakers would have made that creative choice to spoil the ending (not that it wasn't pretty obvious anyway). The cast had some likeable characters, but none got fully fleshed out at all. The slasher in the movie had a cool look to him. The setting, an abandoned carnival, had a lot of potential, but it felt wasted. I did like the carousel scene near the end of the movie though. I've seen much worse low budget horror. This one was at least interesting enough for me to watch until the end. I do wish the movie had given Tony Todd more screen time and an expanded role. That might have saved the movie.
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on May 13, 2015
If you understand that this is an indie-low budget-straight to dvd horror film going into it, then you can enjoy it for what it is. This isn't a big studio production, this is the kind of horror film that only people who really love the genre should check out.

Yes there are some big names "Tony Todd, Sally Kirkland" and yes their roles are basically cameos, but that's not why I enjoyed the film.

For being a low budget horror, it's good. The acting is solid (am I the only one who recognized Jay Gillespie from 2001 Maniacs and Hellraiser?), I found the killer/monster creepy, and I'm a sucker for the old "creepy carnival" setting (any fans of Tobe Hoopers "The Funhouse" out there?)

It's a good film. It isn't an amazing one. It isn't a studio production. And no, Tony Todd is not appearing as the Candyman. But if you love horror, check it out. It's worth the hour and half of your time.
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on March 23, 2015
I absolutely loved this movie. Based off the reviews I read before watching the movie, I assumed it was going to be a really bad movie. but I watched it any way. and was pleasantly surprised. There was something very creepy about this movie. something I couldn't quite put my finger on. but it just sucked me in. yes, people say there wasn't enough gore and on screen killings. while that is always nice. I don't think it always has to be that way for a movie to be good. this movie had a lot of suspense, and maybe i'm a sucker for the whole creepy abandoned carnival set up. but I really enjoyed this movie. Its a low budget indie film. I think they did a pretty good job with it. I've watched it over again a few times actually. one of my new favorites. maybe not every one will like it, but I thought It was great. Very spooky, creepy feel to the movie.
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