Film - The Reaper


Chris Smith watched The Reaper at Raindance Film Festival, but did he find it grim or great...

When her car runs out of petrol, Mirjanai is stranded late at night on a deserted road. She is rescued by Ivo, a local farmer who seems reluctant to help. When Ivo finally takes Mirjanai to a nearby petrol station, she's informed that Ivo is a convicted rapist. Lost and in desperate need of help, Mirjanai doesn't know what to do and Ivo is giving no clue as to his intentions.

The Reaper is an excellent example of how silence is integral to tension. Devoid at numerous times of any sound other than the chirping of crickets, Mirjanai's unease is palpable. As the tension rises, Ivo is impossible to second-guess. Is he a man who's moved on from the past and trying to help or is there something darker behind his motives? Director Zvonimir Juric weaves a taut tale that never allows the audience to feel certain of what will happen next - and at every moment there is the disturbing knowledge that something very bad could happen at any moment.

In terms of conveying Mirjanai's fear, The Reaper is flawless. However, those looking for a compact narrative with no loose ends may be disappointed. The film's first two thirds is understated perfection but sadly in the final act, it does lose its way a little. This is not due to sloppy direction or bad acting (these remain spot-on throughout) but due to a twist that offers a number of tantalising possibilities but delivers nothing. Instead, The Reaper is best seen as a slice of life - the events of a single night in a small community where the audience is given a small glimpse into the lives of strangers.

The framing of each scene is more in line with a documentary rather than a feature film. Characters are hidden behind the door the camera peaks through the crack of, as if it's intruding. This, combined with the silence and plot that develops at a leisurely pace, perfectly mirrors the sleepy night the events of the film take place during.

The Reaper is a tightly constructed but yet flexible enough to gently draw you into its world. It's uncomfortable to watch at times but yet constantly compelling with some truly memorable performances.

Image - Raindance
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