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Jack the Reaper (2011) – Rated R
“The reaper, Railroad Jack, has no mercy when it comes to torturing and slaughtering anyone who meets his eye. When a group of teens sets out on a school field trip to learn about the industrial revolution, Jack has a different plan in mind for them.”
One Line Review: Interesting elements don’t mesh and make a mess.
Jack the Reaper is a remarkably disjointed movie. The killer is continually called Railroad Jack, not Jack the Reaper as the movie is titled. While the killer is Railroad Jack, neither trains nor railroads figure in the movie (except in a brief aside). Instead a carnival is the centerpiece of the movie. So why wouldn’t you make your killer relate to the carnival?
I really get tired of the old cliche that characters in horror movies have never seen a horror movie. Here they split up at every opportunity even after they are being killed off and, in spite of their vehicle breaking down in the middle of nowhere, are not particularly interested in rescue once they discover an abandoned but fully operational carnival nearby.
Jack the Reaper has a few good ideas, which it has ripped off from much better movies. I won’t say which to avoid spoilers. It also has a cameo appearance by Tony Todd, which is always welcome but certainly not enough to save the movie.
My guess is that writer Kimberly Seilhamer wrote a horror movie script and then director Kimberly Seilhamer found a way to film inexpensively at a carnival and rewrote it. The carnage is not well handled and little to no suspense is involved.
The big mystery is how a bargain basement horror movie like this not only got Tony Todd on board but also Oscar-nominated actress Sally Kirkland (Anna, 1987). Douglas Tait, who had small parts in star Trek and Thor also appears here.