Loosely based on the Creepypasta of the same name, The Rake, from director Tony Wash (High On the Hog, Skeletons in the Closet) was honestly a pleasant surprise of a film for me. I was rather hesitant on watching another film based on the humanoid creature after last year's The Raking left a horrible taste in my mouth.
The film opens begins on Christmas, feeling of tidings and joy are in the air as a family of four celebrates the holiday. The yuletide cheer is quickly interrupted by the vicious and brutal attack of an intruder, leaving a brother and sister, Ben and Ashley, alive but scarred from witnessing the death of their parents and the suicide of their killer.
Fast-forward twenty years, Ashley (Shenae Grimes-Beech) has spent many years in a psych ward in an attempt to recover from the childhood trauma, though she still believes that her parent's murderer was possessed by "The Rake". She is about to reunite with her adoptive, now pregnant, sister Nicole (Rachel Melvin) and Nicole's husband Andrew (Joey Bicicchi) for a housewarming party. Ben (Stephen Brodie) arrives and though he is still dealing with the trauma of the past, he seems to be in a far better mental state. Once reunited, it doesn't take long for Ashley's sanity, what's left of it, to deteriorate. Is she really crazy, or has something far more sinister attached itself to her?
I must say that everyone involved with this film, for the most part, did a damn fine job. The cinematography is superb, with many shots, angles, and pans taking on a life of their own. I give major props to the camera crew and what they achieved! Most importantly for me, are the fantastic creature effects and the decision to use practical gore over CGI. This is always a major factor in deciding my enjoyment of a film. The creature looks absolutely phenomenal and terrifying, it's very obvious that a lot of time and passion went into creating this monster. Another pleasant surprise was the gore this film contains, I went into it with no expectations of gory violence, I was wrong. Gore hounds are in for a real treat with The Rake.
As for what I didn't like, though the actors did a surprisingly great job in their roles, they didn't feel fully developed. as in, I wanted to care for them and their well-being but in the end, I just enjoyed watching them get eviscerated. In terms off story, it's rather scattered and it felt as though some pieces were missing. The ending also felt a little underwhelming in terms of a satisfying conclusion. Though, if I take a step back and view the film solely as a creature feature, The Rake definitely delivers as characters and story aren't terribly important for a film of that sub-genre.
With a little more story polish and character development, The Rake could've ascended to a whole new level but I accept the film for what it is and very much enjoyed my time with it. I see this film getting a lot of hate in reviews on the web and it really doesn't deserve it. If you love gore and creatures, don't miss this one. Tony Wash has given us a satisfying film that I will most definitely revisit in the future. I look forward to more projects this filmmaker, especially his upcoming anthology, Skeletons in the Closet!
The Rake is now available on DVD and digital VOD.