In April of 2015, my Weekday Matinee co host Jerry Janda sent me a script to read. This was right after he had been on the Imaginarium and I had gushed like a schoolgirl over how much I had liked Painkiller. I remember it took me awhile to get to it, but once I read Rapt I know it would kick some ass.
What you see in the 34-minute short film is pretty much what I read, with some additional dialogue to flesh things out (so to speak). Co-written with the star, Russell Hackett, Rapt is perhaps the ultimate revenge movie. Hackett plays an indie filmmaker, so anonymous and nondescript he doesn’t even have a name. He’s attending a film festival with his debut movie that receives a less than positive response. His frustration is only increased when he sees another movie overflowing with boobs, blood, and sex, get a standing O (ovation that is).
The rest of the short film tells the tale of how he exacts revenge and makes the ultimate slasher movie. Hackett does a fine job of portraying the filmmaker’s descent into insanity, which really wasn’t that far of a trip, as he comes across as unhinged from the get-go. How he goes about it is half the fun, and won’t spoil anything by talking about the plot points, but needless to say things get a little bloody. Well ok, more than a little.
In addition to co-writing Rapt, Jerry also has a role in it, playing a character only known as the Horror Pro, a guy who writes a horror blog (not too different from some guy called the Horror Nerd, only with more toys). While I hate giving my cohost a swollen head, he really stole the movie for me. Janda has come a long way from Painkiller and it shows. He embodies every fanboy we’ve ever met in our lives. His smug, self-satisfaction as he’s writing up a scathing review of the filmmaker’s movie is enough to want to reach through the screen and smack him.
Then, of course, there’s my partner in crime Todd Staruch who plays a horror fan named, of all things, Scott. While not nearly as handsome as myself, he lives up to my name and does very well in his first major speaking role. If some lines come across a bit stilted, they can be forgiven with the enthusiasm he has for the project. It’s a lot of fun watching him, and wish he had gotten more screen time. Also, watch for his daughter who makes a brief Cameo and lights up the screen with one well-placed eye roll. That kid is going to be a star, mark my words.
All of this is brought together by director Tom Ryan. I was, and still am, a big fan of his movie Faces, and was very excited when I heard he would be directing. Although he never shies away from violence Ryan doesn’t dwell in it either. He knows what’s needed to be effective. Ryan brings out the best in his actors, and keeps things rolling, with only a couple of hiccups on scenes that I thought went on a bit too long, but again none of that takes away from the film.
Anyone familiar with and a regular listener of The Imaginarium will no doubt recognize some of the Easter Eggs strewn throughout the movie. If you pay attention you’ll see quite a bit that seems familiar, making a repeated viewing mandatory.
It’s not always easy reviewing work from people who are friends (Wade Radford’s Fluid Boy comes to mind), and indeed if I hadn’t liked Rapt, I wouldn’t have felt the compulsion to write about it. It captivated me and entertained me. What I enjoyed especially was the dialogue from some of the movies playing at the film festival, it’s some of the funniest stuff you’ll hear in any movie this year.
Rapt made its debut at Todd’s Grindhouse Night at Café Z to a very warm reception, and I imagine it will do very well on the festival circuit. I hope so because it deserves all the success it gets.