Philip Shih’s Reaper is, from the start, an over encumbered feature. There’s a kind of attention deficit that leaves its numerous concepts glazed over, where the feature could quite possibly have achieved much more with much less. Take its opening scene, a hooded figure fiddles with numerous rusty instruments, whilst dubious news coverage barely relates the bloody escape of a death row inmate who has apparently survived the electric chair.
Overly dramatic horror-choir plays whilst the camera zaps and bobs around wires bursting with CGI electricity. The message is clear: Suspend logic all ye who enter here. If the whole film had embraced this strange video-game quality then it probably could have been, at the least, bonkers. Unfortunately, the biggest slice of the film is the relatively low-key narrative around a drug deal at the Last Chance Motel (pft) and a solo hitchhiker caught up in the mix.
I can deal with dodgy acting, some of the greatest worst films have foul performances but a heart wedged in the right place. Reaper however is just a bit of a mess. It goes from drug-deal thriller cock-up to a particular brand of OTT CGI-laden weirdness usually found in more outlandish Japanese horror. This film is the crashing of two fronts that just don’t mix under the circumstance. Why is the Reaper a weird Jamie Foxx Electro-zombie who can teleport anywhere but chooses to waste his time with a small band of dull characters? Granted, you’ll get a good laugh watching Vinnie Jones brandish a big ol’ knife in a small town diner, and Danny Trejo is, as always, a pleasure to watch. He arguably gluing the tatters of the film together. But its such a confusing feature aesthetically that it doesn’t matter too much who is in it.
Its definitely a film, but not a consistent one. Some of it seems almost there, in terms of technical and aesthetic unity, but other scenes look like video game cut-scenes or short films that play before wrestlers slug into the ring. It’s all very confusing. Shih needs to give himself and his film more focus. Fewer plot points, set-pieces, and ideas will make for a more consistent and frankly involving experience. As it stands, this feature takes itself far too seriously to be a manic slice of fun, but is too out-there to permit it straight faced legitimacy.
Reaper is an odd, ramshackle kind of thriller with a preposterously shoehorned supernatural threat and some of the laziest scripting put to digital. Its almost as though the CGI is carefully planted to distract you with pizazz but, in reality, someone, somewhere, thought it would look cool.
Dir. Philip Shih
Stars. Danny Trejo, Shayla Beesley, Vinnie Jones, Jake Busey, Christopher Judge