THE RAKE, the latest film from director Tony Walsh (High on the Hog), is a horror film that centers on a family tormented by a supernatural creature called The Rake. The film stars Shenae Grimes-Beech (Scream 4), Rachel Melvin (Zombeavers), Joey Bicicchi (Rudderless), Stephen Brodie (Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich) and Izabella Miko (Clash of the Titans).
The film opens during Christmas where we meet a family preparing for the joyous occasion that the holidays bring. However, Christmas cheer is replaced by a horrific tragedy as bloodshed and carnage explode on the screen with the only survivors being three children. Fast forward to present day and these children haven now grown into adults. Nicole (Melvin) is newely married and is expecting her first child with her husband, Andrew (Bicicchi). Ben (Brodie) is still dealing with the trauma of what he witnessed as a child while still trying to push forward with his life. And Ashley (Grimes-Beech), having just been released from a psych ward, is convinced that whatever happened that night was caused by a supernatural entity far worse than anyone could imagine. When the three siblings meet up for a housewarming party for Nicole and Andrew, the terror that has been plaguing them since they were children returns with a violent vengeance, hell-bent on massacring all those in its path.
There was a lot about THE RAKE that I really loved. First and foremost, the creature design and practical effects that were used were phenomenal. It makes me so happy to see so many filmmakers choosing practical over the use of CGI. I also really appreciated how terrifying the creature looked when we finally got to see it in all of its glory. Kudos to the makeup team as well as actor Frederick Ford Beckley for his transition into The Rake as I can only imagine how much time and energy went into that transformation. I originally went into this film with zero expectations, not thinking it would be overly violent, but man, was I wrong. For those of you who love copious amounts of gore, you are going to be in for a real treat.
As far as the acting is concerned, it was much better than what I was expecting. Shenae Grimes-Beech delivered in her performance making the audience question if her mental instability is causing her to hallucinate or if what she is seeing is actually real. The only character that really got under my skin was that of Andrew, played by Joey Bicicchi. I’m not sure if we were supposed to hate him or not, but god damn did I want to smack him. His character comes off as being self-righteous and judgmental towards Ashley instead of trying to be understanding of what she has gone through. I’m not sure why the character had to be written that way as it didn’t do much to move along the story, instead just becoming an annoyance that the audience had to deal with.
I think where this film falters is with the story. I love creature features, so I was totally on board with that aspect, but I felt like a lot of pertinent information was missing. Though the ending had some great creature effects and visuals, the story falls flat leaving me questioning a lot of what I had just watched. I felt like the creature wasn’t fleshed out (no pun intended) so as to inform the audience of its purpose and it’s relationship with these three individuals. There were also moments in the film that felt like the story was going to explain why certain characters acted the way they did, almost as if it was a foreshadowing, only to then take a sharp left turn which left me feeling like I had been strung along.
Overall, THE RAKE isn’t a terrible movie, it just need more polishing. I think had the script been worked on so as to make more sense at the end it would have had a much bigger impact upon execution. Aside from that, the creature design and practical effects were top notch and honestly, the best part of the film. Gore fiends, and lovers of creature features, will find a lot to enjoy with THE RAKE, just don’t be overly surprised if the story doesn’t make all that much sense at times.
THE RAKE is now available on DVD and Digital