The Rake

Death is Everywhere. No One is Immune.

Horror Thriller Drama
78 min     4.8     2018     USA


Ben and Ashley come together 20 years after the murder of their parents to determine the cause of their parents' death. Ashley is troubled by the idea that the thing that took her parents' lives may not be finished with her family.


Wuchak wrote:
**_A cabin in the woods, several 20-somethings, and some… THING_** A newlywed couple invites five friends over to celebrate their new home in the sticks of Illinois, including the wife’s adopted brother & sister, who are trying to overcome terrible childhood trauma. They will all find out if the siblings’ mental health issues are merely that or something way more sinister. "The Rake” (2018) is cabin-in-the-woods horror but, thankfully, isn’t the same old, same-old. For one thing, the seven characters are all well into their 20s, so don’t expect shallow teenagers celebrating Spring Break. Furthermore, the slasher element isn’t of the normal variety and the focus is on serious drama. Lastly, the flick illustrates the awful truth about abortion. Yet this doesn’t mean it’s “anti-abortion,” as one critic claimed, just that it shows the ugly reality. If anything, it arguably lands in the pro-choice camp. Rachel Melvin as Nicole and Shenae Grimes-Beech as Ashley standout on the female front with powerful performances for Indy horror. As far as beauty goes, there’s voluptuous Darcy Wood as brunette Michelle and Izabella Miko as blonde Cassie, the mother of the siblings in the intro. Too bad Darcy’s part wasn’t bigger with better footage (not talkin’ bout nudity or sleaze). On the other side of the gender spectrum, Stephen Brodie plays Ashley’s overcoming brother while Joey Bicicchi plays Nicole’s angst-ridden husband fixated on protecting her well-being (and understandably so). Then there’s Joe Nunez as the jovial drinker. The flick respects the intelligence of the viewer to put the pieces of the puzzle together based on dialogue clues, etc. so you have to listen closely to figure out Nicole’s relationship to Ben & Ashley. One thing I didn’t get, however, is who the naked woman in the woods was; she looked like Ashley’s nude doppelganger, but I'm not sure. Then there's how Jeremy’s woman was never introduced; she's just found dead by the work shed. While a lot of the runtime is spent on the characters at the backwoods house and the drama thereof, I feel the movie needed even more time with them because what’s here is really well written & acted. The depiction of psychological trauma, mostly with Ashley, is impressively done and smacks of superior filmmaking. Since this is the movie’s strength, I wish more time was spent fleshing out these interesting characters. Instead, it switches to all-out gory horror and a quick end. Speaking of horror, the main problem most critics have with the flick is the ambiguity of the creepypasta lore. Yet, if you listen to the father’s research during the prologue, you’ll gain some insights. The creature is linked to (or likened to) the AmerIndian legend Wendigo and similar “myths.” It’s a malevolent spirit that attaches itself to its prey, causing mental suffering, and only manifests in the physical realm through the victim in distorted form. Like any demonic entity, its purpose is to “steal, kill and destroy,” including stealing a person’s mental health and tormenting them (for years and years, if it so desires, which it evidently feeds off of). We don’t know any more than this because it’s not possible to do so since it’s a supernatural being beyond our mortal experience. This is one of those movies that had the potential to be great, but needed another rewrite to clarify key issues and flesh out its potential. But this would take time and time means money in filmmaking, which this Indy production didn’t have. Yet what’s here is worth checking out if you don’t mind scratching your head a bit. The film runs 1 hour, 19 minutes, and was shot in Illinois. GRADE: B-