Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

A group of diverse kids from all kinds of walks of life have failed, or didn’t take some kind of test given by their history teacher, so he gets the bright idea to force them to take a Saturday field trip to get some extra learnin’.  To the uninitiated, a retest probably would’ve been the better move, but I guess mad railroad killers can’t get to you in the classroom.  Other killers can, we’ve seen them do it, but not ‘Jack the Reaper’ who needs a unique set of circumstances to eliminate annoying high school kids.  Which is redundant.

Who are these idiot kids that can’t show up for a regularly scheduled test, but can show up for a Saturday Morning field trip?  They are the usual suspect such as douchebag Steve (Tyler Wolfe) who is a jock.  I know this because he’s wearing a jersey and is carrying a football and that’s something only jocks do.  There’s his best buddy Andre (Richardson Cherry) who’s the Black Guy, Sommer (Hope Jaymes) the slut, Harold (Christopher Raff) the fat geek, Trudy (Grace Jiyoung Park) the rich bitch,  Caspar (Andrew Olson) the gothy albino guy, Shawn (Jay Gillespie) the sensitive guy who carries his guitar around everywhere and Jesse (Alexandra Holder) who looks like she’s final girl material.  This horror flick throws a few fresh ones in the mix because we also have Tyler the Gay Dude (Jemel Draco) who is also a bonus Black Dude, and the lovely but deaf Maya (Amber Zion) who has a category all to herself as the HandiCapable Chick.  Sally Kirkland is in this movie also as the weird granny to Harold the fat geek.  We normally wouldn’t mention this, considering her part was so small and insignificant, but she is Sally Kirkland and her name is in the top of the credits so we don’t have much of a choice.

So our kids jump on the bus, Jesse the final girl sees a strange figure standing in a field through the dirty glass… could somebody clean a window?  And they make it to some train depot to hear inane prattlings of the sage train maestro Mr. Steele (Tony Todd).  I can’t remember what he was talking about but it was coming out of the mouth of Tony Todd so it sounded scary.

With Mr. Steele finished freaking everybody out, they jump back on the bus… most worthless field trip ever… the bus flips and now the fun begins.  Literally, because in the distance is a carnival where they jump on a few rides and look for help.  And if by help they meant getting gored to death by a large dude with a pickaxe, then that’s what they meant. 

One by one our kids get decimated at the carnival by Jack the Reaper, but why?   I mean sure, they are irritating and obnoxious, but most high school kids are and not all high school kids deserve to die.  It all comes back to the train tracks and the ominous words of the sage Mr. Steele.  Even though we still don’t remember what he was talking about, but it sure did sound scary.

My friends, I really wanted to like ‘Jack the Reaper’.  I want to like every movie to be honest with you, because who wants to settle down for the evening and not be entertained, but especially this one because of this film’s writer / director Kimberly Seilhamer who is a very impressive woman.  Hard working, a former marine, a person who’s come up through the business the hard way without taking any shortcuts, plus her movie won the best horror / sci-fi film at Cannes Independent Film Festival.  That’s not to be confused with Festival de Cannes, but it’s still the French Riviera and awards were won.  An impressive lady.  I just wished I liked her movie more. 

The setup and process is fairly typical for a horror movie, obnoxious kids, very few of whom you will actually care about when the buy it, on their way to get brutally f’d up by an unstoppable killer.  Seilhamer does go through the process to setup a little character development for a couple of the characters early on, Jesse being sexually abused and Shawn in a tizzy because he’s knocked up his girlfriend, though neither of these issues really come into play as the movie goes on.  Also typical is the style in which our kids, some of who we admit look to be in their thirties, are hunted and eliminated, though we do admire the special way that Tyler the Gay Dude chose his own demise.  But so far there’s nothing unique or special going on here. 

The twist is where this low budget feature should’ve separated itself, but unfortunately I saw it coming.  Not because I’m all that bright or clever, in fact I’m the opposite of those things, but because I have a halfway decent memory since I’ve seen it before.  A couple of times.  I can’t tell you where because if you’ve seen these movies then it would be an awful spoiler and we try to avoid that here at the FCU, but we know what’s up. 

That being said we didn’t hate ‘Jack the Reaper’ or anything like that, for one you can’t ever go wrong making the obviously demonic roadside carnival a setting for your horror movie, the actors in this movie were gung ho and effective all things considered, the movie was paced well enough so boredom was never an issue and Tony Todd was on board to chew up the two scenes he was in.  It’s just that we’ve seen it before.  Nonetheless we are still a fan of Kimberly Seilhamer and look forward to her next creation, which we expect will be even better than this one, no matter how many awards it may have won.

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