Jack the reaper cover

Premise: As a teacher, who is watching these fantastic remarkable films while grading, I am not sure how to feel about the basic premise this time. The premise is that a group of ten kids who did not do their homework on the Industrial Revolution, have to complete a make-up assignment in the form of a Saturday field trip to a railroad museum in the desert. I’m not sure how that equals a missed assignment, but their teacher is way more dedicated than I am. I would have just flunked them and slept in that Saturday, which would have been a wise choice considering the outcome of the trip.

Also, how do ten kids miss an assignment? Ten? I get maybe two or three in any given semester, but I don’t teach high-school (for a reason). These are bad kids, but they don’t deserve slaughtering.  They seem alright.

Jack the reaper Tony Todd

Tony Todd as Tony Todd in every film Tony Todd is ever in. Also pictured: fat kid with overbearing mom.

The first ten minutes of the film are devoted to assembling the cast of characters. Aside from the dopey, short-sleeve and brown pants wearing teacher, there is a bizarre set of kids. We have a high-school quarter back who looks to be about 35, a fat kid with an overbearing mother, a token responsible male, a deaf girl, a soon-to-be teen dad guitarist, an albino emo kid, the slutty teen cousin of the deaf girl who can translate sign language, a prissy rich girl in heels, a punk who looks to be about 45, and a possibly sexual abused brown haired girl (her dad is creepy). They all load up on the (could you be more obvious) Charon Ferriers’ school bus and head into the desert for a day of learnin’ stuff about railroads from Tony Todd, who plays Tony Todd as Tony Todd. As an educator I do not see the point of this lesson.

Hijinx are about to ensue in what looks to be a Jeepers Creepers II  rip-off. The lesson these high school slackers should have learned was: STAY ON THE BUS, FOOLS!

To the list of spoilage:

    1. Spoiler! Nothing is happening in this movie:
      First of all, this movie would never pass my 20 minute rule if I weren’t watching it specifically to ridicule it. Nothing happens in the first 20 minutes. They gather. They get on a bus. They drive into the desert. Possibly abused brown haired girl sees a dude and responds “Hey, there was a dude!” It isn’t until 20 minutes in that all of a sudden there is an ominous lady voice over. She starts talking nonsense about disciples and souls and how she’s going to eat them -Om-nom-nom-nom. This comes out of nowhere, and it makes very little sense. I don’t really understand what she’s saying at all, and I get the feeling that the directors don’t understand it either, because it makes no sense…not even by the end of the film. I’m about 2 seconds from turning the movie off and calling this one a wash when Tony Todd walks in and starts Tony Todding all over the place. He’s creepy, so I tough it out. Sadly, he’s in exactly two scenes, and is not the bad guy.
    2. Spoiler! The little engine who wanted to eat your soul:
      I start to suspect, after Mr. Todd’s nonsensical but appropriately ominous speech, that this is about to be not a Jeepers Creepers II movie, but one about an evil railroad and am wondering how difficult it would be to avoid train tracks. Remarkably, I am wrong, and happy to be wrong.
    3. Spoiler! CRASH:
      So, the bus crashes, but it looks like there was no budget for a bus crash, so the movie just went blank and noisy for about 30 seconds. As the students pick themselves up off the floor in the next scene (which shows a perfectly intact, no windows broken bus), they notice that the bus driver and teacher are gone. OH NO! It is at this moment, 29 minutes into the movie, that I realize the not so subtle signs of an obvious twist have emerged. At one hour and 17 minutes into the film I discover I am either a) psychic, b) way too familiar with horror movie tropes, or c) dealing with a very heavy handed movie. Conclusion: I am all three (except a).
    4. Spoiler! Don’t get off the bus:
      As they’re picking themselves up and arguing about what to do they notice a carnival in the distance. Now, here’s a super bonus horror movie/Scooby Doo tip that should be followed: ALWAYS AVOID ABANDONED CARNIVALS. It looks like fun, but ultimately no good comes of these types of adventures. At the very least some dastardly old man is going to scare the bejeezus out of you, and at worst everyone is going to get hacked to bits systematically by a ghostly killer with a cheesy name like, say, Railroad Jack.

      Jack the reaper Jack

      Railroad Jack is so boooooring!

    5. Spoiler! Still nothing is happening:
      I’m almost an hour into the movie and nothing has happened in terms of mayhem and slaughter, nothing. At around the 50 minute mark the prissy rich girl in heels goes missing. That’s it.
    6. Spoiler! FINALLY SOME MAYHEM:
      Aw, but it’s boring. BOOOO! I still have no idea what a carnival has to do with a railroad, what Tony Todd has to do with anything, or where the ominous lady voice over has gone to. But at least people are getting slaughtered? It’s some consolation. Although, their brutal injuries (via pick axe?)  look like they were done by a semi-talented fifth grader with CrayPas. The “killer’s eye view” special effect looks like a poorly used filter on Instagram. And, worst of all, the killer himself is not very creative, or funny. Where’s the glee? Come on, man, you’re slaughtering the weirdest collection of high school slackers I’ve seen in a while…at least have some fun with it.
    7. Spoiler! This sucks.

Conclusion: I really like horror films with punny titles. I”m always willing to give them a try because sometimes there are absurd gems hidden among the crap. This one had potential, but it relied on a mish-mash of different elements that didn’t fit together, and the “what a twist?!” that was supposed to blow our little horror movie minds was predictable and dull. I was left with one serious question though, and if anyone has seen this film, please chime in and let me know what you think…what was with the cowboy?