This one has been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time now and I just now was able to knock it out for today’s #ShortMovieMonday entry. The Reaper’s Image is a 2013 short film by Rotting Corpse Productions that is based on the Stephen King short story of the same name. You can read the original King story here.
SPOILER ALERT: This review WILL talk openly about the plot of the film. If you want to experience the film as it was intended watch it before reading this review.
Here’s the plot from King’s original work (snagged from Wikipedia) which the film follows very accurately:
The story concerns a visit by antique collector Johnson Spangler to the Samuel Claggert museum, a museum estate full of Claggert’s assembled possessions and “blatant junk”, in an attempt to buy the legendary Delver’s mirror. The museum curator, Mr. Carlin, ushers Spangler through the building, recounting the storied history of the rare Elizabethan mirror, which has been plagued by incidents of attempted destruction. The museum curator also explains the infamous history of the mirror, recounting all the people who have looked into the mirror and mysteriously disappeared.
Carlin tells the skeptical Spangler the image of the Reaper is rumored to appear in the mirror, standing close to the viewer. Spangler scoffs, but feels unnamable horror when he looks into the mirror and claims to see some duct tape in the mirror’s corner. He angrily confronts Carlin, who claimed the mirror was undamaged. Carlin claims however that there is no duct tape, and that Spangler is “seeing the reaper.” When Spangler runs his hand over the “duct tape”, he feels a smooth surface rather than the rough outside of the tape. When Spangler looks again, the duct tape is gone. As Carlin relates the history of a high school boy who saw the Reaper and disappeared without a trace, Spangler becomes ill and rushes out of the second floor. Mr. Carlin remains behind to wait.. and wait…
The final lines indicate that Spangler never returned and also disappeared.
Thoughts & Review
I’m sort of torn on this one. This is an incredibly faithful re-telling of King’s story which is short and sweet. The story of “mythical object that will fuck you up if you interact with it” has been told and re-told countless times. The acting here is stiff to be sure especially in the 1700’s when there’s little to no source material to go off. It doens’t get a whole lot better when we get to present day, but at that point it really feels like the actors are reading a script rather than acting.
There are a couple of things that stand out to me:
- Mrs. Spangler (Shannon Hunt) drinking out of a Red Solo Cup in a museum. It looks WAY out of place.
- The entire “negotiation” scene seems unnecessary. It’s not in the original short and should probably have been left out here.
- The makup effects when someone has seen the Reaper in the mirror are well done.
- The “growl” when they go into the mirror room is intense. Well done.
This is what I’d call a micro-budget flick for sure. The score is disarming in a good way, but the audio quality of the flick is poor at best. There were many times when I couldn’t make out what was being said and others when voice seemed to appear out of nowhere as they were so much “different” than the previous voice that was heard.
Where this one shines is after King’s original short ends. To see Spangler be “taken” by the Reaper was a nice touch. Seeing Carlin actaully come face to face with Death was neat as well, though I’m not sure it adds much to the overall story (which I’m guessing is why King ended it where he did). All in all, I can’t say I’d highly recommend The Reaper’s Image but it’s definitely not the worst short I’ve seen. With a running time of around 30 minutes there are some nuggets to be gleaned and DOES show that the folks at Rotting Corpse have some serious upside.
You can learn more about Rotting Corpse Productions and The Reaper’s Image at their official website www.rottingcorpseproductions.com, on IMDB or on their official Facebook page. Tell em ScareTissue sent ya!