Grim Reaper (DVD)

Grim Reaper reviewStarring Cherish Lee, Brent Fidler, Benjamin Pitts, Nick Mathis, Adam Fortrin

Directed by Michael Feifer

Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Sometimes a movie ends up being bad in the most basic manner in which a film can be. I’m talking about a bad movie that’s bad because it’s badly written, badly directed, badly acted, and there’s just a general overall cloud of badness hovering over the production. Grim Reaper is such a bad movie and it’s capital B-A-D bad.

Now rather than recount the plot I’m just going to default to the synopsis provided on the DVD case:

“Death comes for us all, but after surviving a car crash that should have taken her life, Rachel Wilson finds herself stalked by the Grim Reaper himself intending on taking a soul he feels he is owed. Barely conscious in the ER room, Rachel struggles to convince the nurses that Death is coming for her and that her life is hanging in the balance. Supposedly, for her own protection, Rachel is locked up in a secure mental health facility. But it’s not long before she discovers that her incarceration in the old hospital was no coincidence, surrounded by six other “patients” who, themselves, have cheated death. Over the course of the night they will have to face their worst fears, their own mortality, and Death himself.”

Toss in her med student boyfriend’s desperate search to find and rescue her, a person who may or may not be a guardian angel walking amongst man, a sickly doctor with sinister motives, the occasional pointless dream sequence tossed in for a cheap jolt, and a lot of mumbo jumbo about timelines, the “circle of fate,” and how changing them can help you cheat death a second time, and you wind up with a potentially creepy premise that totally flops due to being poorly told, flatly directed, and insultingly stupid by the end. It also doesn’t help that the acting is almost consistently weak, which is definitely not good given how hokey the dialogue already is.

The first 12 minutes of Grim Reaper were so perplexingly put together that I was convinced it was going to be one of those horror movies where you’re constantly wondering what’s real, what’s imagined, what’s a dream, what’s a delusion, and maybe even what plane of existence the characters are on. But instead it just turned out to be a rather drab slasher flick (although I suspect the filmmakers wouldn’t readily cop to the film being just another slasher flick) with the grim reaper cast as a scythe-slashing maniac sluggishly stalking a bunch of whiny twenty-something’s trapped in a dimly lit building with a lot of dank corridors and industrial pipe works. The movie creeps along about as listlessly as the grim reaper walks and stalks; attempts to generate atmosphere or suspense fall well short.

I was almost 100% positive that it was going to be revealed that all these characters that had cheated death were really stuck in some sort of purgatory world where the grim reaper had difficulty finishing the job. To the film’s credit, what seemed so obvious to me turned out to not be the case. Although, in retrospect, the explanation we do get is so inane that maybe they should have gone with the purgatory idea. I won’t give it away but I will tell this; if you ever find yourself having to play Death in a game to determine your fate, challenge him to a game of Hide & Seek because apparently death really sucks at the seeking part. That or the explanation we’re given would indicate that the grim reaper is just really lazy. Either way, the explanation is just plain dumb.

The grim reaper as portrayed in this film is stupid, lethargic, and wimpy. For a supernatural being that’s supposed to be the very embodiment of death itself and who’s only purpose is to deal out death, Grim Reaper succeeds in making the grim reaper both not scary and rather incompetent at his job. You know something is wrong when the title character from the movie Skeleton Man – who wasn’t even supposed to be the grim reaper even though that’s exactly what it looked like – ends up being a more menacing grim reaper figure than the one in a horror movie actually called Grim Reaper. The grim reaper on the box art is far scarier than the mysterious figure in a Jedi cloak lurking about in the movie itself. Even the grim reaper from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was more menacing. And the reaper does indeed appear to be highly inept at his own job. For crying out loud, the makers of this movie actually want us to believe that the very specter of death itself can be thwarted by running it over with a car!

Then there’s the matter of the finale with Rachel and the reaper – now sans hooded cloak and looking like a more mummified version of Thundercats’ nemesis Mum-Ra – inside some sort of netherworld necropolis playing what I would describe as a game of cat & mouse except they walk about aimlessly at such a slow pace and have so little interaction with one another that a more befitting description would be to call it a game of turtle & sloth.

And would you believe there’s yet one more final twist on top of it that seemingly renders everything you’ve just watched null and void?

I swear this is the sort of production that in ye olden days would have moved audiences to begin booing loudly and chucking tomatoes at the screen. Grim Reaper went from confusing bad to boring bad to predictably bad to “Holy crap, this is retarded!” bad and then back to boring bad all over the course of 80 minutes. Even though I’m reviewing it in December of 2006, since this film doesn’t actually hit DVD shelves until January of 2007, I’m fully prepared to call Grim Reaper an early frontrunner for worst movie of 2007.

1/2 out of 5

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Jon Condit

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