Folktales have always been a rich source of subject matter for horror fiction. And as Creepypasta replaces traditional folk tales it’s only natural that it becomes a source as well. Several films have already incorporated variations on the “Slenderman” character and other filmmakers are mining it for material. This brings us to THE RAKE, the second film, (after last year’s THE RAKING), based on this humanoid creature. While the first was a fairly straightforward version of the tale this adds some new elements like possession and body jumping to the mix. Is it a change for the better?
As children, Ben and Ashley were witnesses to the brutal deaths of their parents and the suicide of their killer. Now it’s twenty years later and Ashley (Shenae Grimes-Beech BLOOD HONEY, DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION) is still convinced her parents killer wasn’t human. That Jacob Murphy (Joe Mullen) had been possessed by The Rake.
Reunited with adoptive sister Nicole (Rachel Melvin ZOMBEAVERS), whose parents took them in after the murders, she and Ben (Stephen Brodie PUPPET MASTER: THE LITTLEST REICH) must deal with Ashley’s deteriorating condition. Is she losing her sanity, or has something evil attached itself to her?
Director Tony Wash (IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL DIE IF I WANT TO) has created a nice looking but empty DTV shocker. There’s plenty of atmospheric cinematography, well done practical gore effects and cool setups. But when what was supposed to be a wince-inducing scene of self-harm had no effect on me the disconnect becomes obvious. The characters are so poorly developed and/or unlikable that I really didn’t care what happened to them. I really wasn’t bored, I just wasn’t drawn in either, something I’m finding all too common lately.
Having the creature able to possess victims doesn’t really do much except allow a couple of cool effects. The creature itself is nasty looking in its various forms even if the final one seems a bit immobile. The version we see in the forest reminded me of the creature from THE SLAYER, indeed the whole middle act of the film shares a lot of similarities with that film.
With a good monster and plenty of gore, THE RAKE should keep viewers amused and less demanding fans satisfied. I just hope next time out Wash gets a script to match the quality of his visuals.
THE RAKE will be released on DVD and digital VOD on June 5, 2018, via Unified Pictures and Sony.