Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So you have a movie directed by one of the Jerky Boys, produced by Artie Lange of ‘Beer League’ fame, stars a white rapper (who can’t rap by the way) who calls himself ‘Rapturious’ and toss in Joe Bob Briggs in a movie that travels from the Old West to Philadelphia to Hell and back and I’m sure you have the makings of one hell of a raucous comedy.  Well damn, ‘Rapturious’ wasn’t funny at all, nor was it trying to be.  What ‘Rapturious’ ended up being was a VERY ambitious psychological horror thriller that falls short of its goals, but is admired in its attempts to at least be different.

Our films opens some time in the old west where Dead Eye Pete (Jim Fletcher), a bad man if there ever was one, is behind bars spatting on a priest that is attempting to give Pete some salvation before he is hanged.  Dead Eye Pete isn’t looking for anybody’s salvation and tells the man of the cloth that he enjoyed raping, killing, robbing, and pillaging and given a second chance he would do it all again.  Pete is subsequently hanged while some weird Native American dude is pointing at him – which I’m sure means something.

In the present day, hip hop artist Rapturious (Robert Oppel) is on the verge of blowing up with his album moving up charts and a couple of movie deals in the works.  But Rapturious has serious issues he has yet to come to terms with.   Being a child of abuse, his only coping mechanism seems a high usage of drugs.  Knowing how much he loves his drugs, his pusher Louie has run across a new powder known as ‘After Life’ which he says will set his world on fire.  What it does do is make Rapturious hallucinate about killing people, and hear devil voices saying stuff like ‘We have found you’. 

Eventually the combination of drugs and insanity completely consume Rapturious, giving him vivid visions of a living hell and driving him into unspeakable acts of

violence and mayhem.  When the crazed rappers’ psychiatrist tells him that he can be cured simply by saying something along the lines of ‘I Freely Give up my Soul’, that looks a bad move to me all around, but that’s just me I suppose.  Eventually it’s looking like everything is going straight to hell for poor Rapturious, and unless they find somebody who’s willing to step in as a casting director – considering what happened to the last one, I think that his movie deal is the tank too.

It is to the benefit of writer / director Kamal Ahmed that ‘Rapturious’ is certainly a hard movie to classify.  One can’t really say it’s like ‘this’ movie or it’s like ‘that’ movie because it is a beast all its own.  This doesn’t mean that ‘Rapturious’ is a good film, but at the very least it sets itself apart by being unique.  There are a lot of different concepts and varying images in this film that Ahmed seems to be working with here that never quite came together coherently for me.  The heart of the concept and ultimate goal of the narrative was easy enough to grasp, it was the things that were on the periphery that only served to confuse and bewilder.

Initially it seems the narrative was set up for a fight for the soul of Rapturious, but as far as I could tell in this film, there were nothing but demons all around so where was the fight?  Where was the battle?  From the rappers drug dealer, to his agent to his lawyer, all these characters seemed to exist drive Rapturious deeper beyond redemption.  Who was fighting for his salvation?  If it was supposed to be Rapturious himself he was doing a piss poor job and as such didn’t need much assistance to sell his soul.  Certain characters were introduced that seemed to have greater meaning, such as the pair of violent cops searching for the rapper, his one true friend Sloop, or the hostile rapper who wishes to do battle, but their meanings were too vague and esoteric to get a good mental grip on.

The conclusion meshed well with the film and didn’t just drop out of left field and Robert Oppel gives a fine performance as the troubled artist.  Kamal Ahmed indeed has a vivid imagination and was able to effectively create some freaky eerie imagery, but the story was too disjointed and the narrative ran off the tracks in the middle of this film just to jump back on the track near the end.  Definitely an ambitious effort by the director and probably one that the more off center thinkers out there might enjoy.  Personally I found the story just a bit too obtuse to get any real enjoyment out of it.

Real Time Web