Psychiatrist, Dr. Benson, is treating a young, sedate woman, who is currently unable to talk due to a recent trauma. The girl, Audrey, doesn’t seem to respond to any outside stimuli, until Dr. Benson tells her that she, too, experienced the same thing that Audrey witnessed. With her patient’s permission, the Doctor puts Audrey under hypnosis and Audrey relives the incident that brought her to her current mental state….
Welcome to February! Since this is the shortest month of the year, I’ve decided that it was only right to dedicate this month’s write-ups to short films. Today we’re going with Rake, a 2015, 15-minute long short film based on a story circulated by our friends over at Creepypasta. The appearance of the titular creature, the Rake, tends to vary, but generally it is described as a pale, hairless humanoid that gets around by quickly crawling around on all fours. In the case of this story, the creature also has elongated, clawed fingers and no eyes, nose or mouth, which begs the question of how the thing manages to be so deadly and track and eat prey, but I digress. It’s an appropriately creepy creature, and I think 15 minutes is more than enough time to get this “made for the internet” creature’s disturbing nature across.
The creature’s design itself is simple, yet effective, as is it’s presentation. The audience is only given brief glimpses of it’s pale, featureless face. The most detail you get from it comes from the static poster shot, as it moves too quickly in the film to really get a good look otherwise. You’re given just enough of it to get an idea of what it looks like, and to know that it’s dangerous and definitely not human. Other than that, it’s pretty generic, like a more feral Slenderman. Creepy, yes. But generic.
Actually, it kind of reminds me of that one character from Pan’s Labyrinth.
The tension and atmosphere is also pretty good. The film takes place at night, in the desert, out in the middle of nowhere, which wouldn’t have been anywhere on MY list of possible Graduation Party locations, but when you’re young (or can’t afford permits to shoot your film anywhere else), you work with what you have. The darkness and sparse, empty landscape works well in the film’s favor, as does the shiny RV they all, assumedly, drove out there in. That thing may be pretty, but it looks to be about as sturdy as a box of tissue paper, essentially leaving what’s left of the group, by the time they scamper into it, in a precarious situation. And the inclusion of the flickering lights (how did the creature know how to do that?) helps add to the impending doom. It may not be much, but considering the small budget, it’s clear they used every penny of what they had to its fullest extent.
The characters here are all serviceable, and pretty much fill all the cliche slasher victim roles one expects. You’ve got the pair of horney young adults (AKA the early cannon fodder), the asshole, the sarcastic chick that puts the asshole in his place, the guy who’d rather spend his time brooding by the fire, and the Final Girl who just wants everyone to be happy and have a good time. Everyone fills their role admirably, and the movie even throws in some quick moments in an attempt to flesh them out into more than simple two dimensional characters. The problem with that is, the story is just too short to effectively flesh anything out. We get an inkling that there’s a potentially awkward backstory surrounding some of these characters, but precious little more than that, so any effort to ‘overcome’ any issues in the group just falls flat. There’s just not enough time to pull off what they want to pull off, so when you come to the attempts at ‘heartfelt’ moments it ends up feeling like the script is just trying too hard. I appreciate what they were attempting to do, but ultimately the end result winds up feeling forced.
After graduation party…..woo….
The one qualm I have with the film is the pacing. While there isn’t anything inherently bad with it, there is a lot of focus in the beginning on establishing the characters. It takes the creature a good 8 minutes to show up, which is a fine amount of time to establish the characters and situation and all. But when your film is only 15 minutes long I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who are going to take umbrage with the fact that it takes Mr. Rake that long to make an appearance.
Finally! Where the fuck have you been!?
Overall, Rake is a fine little film. It looks nice, it sounds nice, it’s decently acted and it sticks around just long enough not to overstay its welcome. I wish more urban legend type films were made like this, instead of trying to expand everything into feature length territory. The pacing of the film does feel a little off in the beginning, especially the psychiatry parts. But the time spent there isn’t pointless and only lasts a couple of minutes (even though it might seem like longer). If you’re looking for some quick little horror snippets to watch, then this might be a good option.
Rake is currently available on a variety of streaming services, including free on Youtube.
You can watch it here: