Synopsis: After failing to complete an assignment about the Industrial Revolution, a group of students are taken on a Saturday field trip to a remote train museum as punishment. When the bus gets in an accident on the way back to school, they walk to a nearby carnival for help and are stalked by a mysterious railroad man, Jack, and his pickaxe.
Movie Review: Jack the Reaper (2011)
A review of the 2011 horror film starring Tony Todd and Stacey Carino.
I picked out this movie to watch with my wife last night because I realized it had been a while (days) since we watched a slasher movie. Since I had not heard of this movie and didn't recognize most of the cast, I had lowered standards for this film when we started watching them. Unfortunately, as it turns out, those lowered standards weren't low enough. This movie was just plain bad.
First of all, the overall premise of the film is very weak. I find it very hard to believe any school would approve the cost of taking a handful of students on a Saturday field trip that is designed primarily as punishment, especially in an age when schools aren't exactly swimming in money. Not to mention, the field trip itself (as well as the drawn-out bus loading scene) took up a pretty big chunk of the film considering it was primarily meant to introduce Railroad Jack (Tait).
On top of it, the movie is very predictable. Once the bus accident happened, it wasn't difficult to figure out why their teacher (Beeler) bus driver (Mark Erikson) disappeared and why they were being stalked by Railroad Jack. And, this was despite the fact the whole "reaper" concept itself was kind of confusing (mostly becuase that narrator was more irritating than informative).
Not helping this film were the various characters themselves. Even if there's a decent villain (and I would rank Railroad Jack as OK), movies like this are only as good as the victims. The writers didn't bother to give more than the very basic information about each of them, including vague hints of home problems like sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and bullying (which they never elaborate on). As a result of this, it was very hard to related to any of them or care if they were killed.
Not to mention, these kids weren't exactly the brightest bulbs either. They are in the middle of the desert and NONE of them thinks it's strange there happens to be an amusement park? Considering it wasn't there when they drove by before, I think that would be the first thing that would have me locking up the bus tight. And, if I did decide to investigate (never would happen), I certainly would not be turning on the rides before looking for a phone. They sort of forgot they were just in a bus accident.
I honestly think this movie had some potential, at least as a halfway decent slasher movie. Unfortunately, the writers spent more time loading the bus than telling us more about the students and that, along with a somewhat weak excuse to send them in the desert to begin with, kept it from being anything that is worth watching.
My Grade: D
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