The Rake follows a woman and her brother as they reunite after 20 years with a group of friends at a remote home. Trying to overcome their past in which their parents were brutally murdered, the two siblings cope with their trauma among their friends. While the sister spirals further out of control, reality and the supernatural creature known as the Rake seem to blend together.
The Rake Review
I decided to check this film out based on the advice of Efrit, and I'm sure glad I did. Efrit has revealed other low-budget horror prospects to me in the past that have introduced hidden gems. Absentia comes to mind. But where that movie used subtle and progressive tension, this movie used its minimal budget to bring brutality.
The Rake is that ideal poster-child for low-budget horror that focuses on its strengths while embracing its weaknesses. In this case, the strengths are an interesting story, a fun creature design and some great practical effects work...where the weaknesses are the script and acting. Trod through the actors delivering poorly constructed dialogue and you are rewarded with some brutal kills and a creature that reveals itself in rather gruesome ways.
The creature is very reminiscent of the design from Feast or Animal, but I'm willing to look past it because it's a good design and the suit is well done. Its gradual reveal over the course of the film makes the final moments of the creature design's visceral appearance all the more enjoyable. Like Jaws, but we don't get the benefit of the trio of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw to get us through to the good bits.
Instead we get brutally blatant and lurid dialogue that is so on-the-nose that it takes away all of its power. Our characters take little time to develop chemistry between one another as they dump years of intense trauma onto each other with little to no natural course. It makes for awkward moments where it is meant to be tense and engaging.
There are moments in the film between characters that make you just as disgusted as the creature's actions, which can make you think at times, "is it worth it to push through?" For this undead critic, it was. I thought the pay-off of the character and some of the set pieces made the weaknesses of the film balance out enough to make the production a success. What feels like the first attempt at directing a solid film inevitably proves promising for the crew, even if the cast may not make it much further.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10
Horror Quality: 8/10
Film Quality: 5/10