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Jonathan Weichsel Written by Jonathan Weichsel
Aug. 25, 2013 | 4:10 PM

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Legend of the Red Reaper (2013)

Red Reaper

By Jonathan Weichsel

So much has been written over the years about the legend of Legend of the Red Reaper, about the initial production problems, how the film was scrapped and then saved by actress Tara Cardinal and how it became something in between a passion project and an obsession of hers, as she struggled against enormous adversity to finish the film herself.

It is not my job however, as a critic, to write about the legend, but about the film itself. Legend of the Red Reaper is quite possibly the most elaborate indie genre film every produced. It is also among the most ambitious, and although the film doesn’t always meet its lofty ambitions, where it falls short it at least does so in interesting ways.

Reapers are creatures that are half human and half demon, and are the spawns of rape. Although humans shun reapers, reapers are sworn to protect them against demons. In Legend of the Red Reaper, Tara Cardinal plays the reaper Aella, who according to legend is to be the last of her kind. Knowing that there will soon be no place for her in the world, Aella’s loyalties become conflicted as her heart, mind, and conscience all pull her in different directions.

All of this takes place to the backdrop of an epic war between human and demon, and action and spectacle abound. Tara Cardinal, who does her own stunts, puts her full athleticism on display during the film’s surprisingly bloody sword-fights.  The fight choreography, whether depicting hand-to-hand combat or a giant battle, is always top notch.

There are a few things about Legend of the Red Reaper that make it unique. Foremost among these is that it will be lost on no one watching it that Legend of the Red Reaper is a feminist action film. At least you don’t have to be a respected film critic to interpret the meaning of lines such as, “As a child fate cast me as a victim. I have chosen to be a victor.”

But beyond any rhetoric, Legend of the Red Reaper is told completely and unapologetically from a female’s perspective. This isn’t a film about a guy trying to get a girl. It is a film about a woman trying to woo a man. Rather than go for the cheap trick of role reversal that we are usually subject to when movies try to tell a woman’s tale, Legend of the Red Reaper truly brings us into a woman’s world.

Along with being unapologetically feminist, Legend of the Red Reaper is also an unapologetically geeky film. This is a film borne out of the respective cultures of comic book conventions and renaissance fairs. What this means is that there is a sense of fun that you don’t see too often anymore. It also however means that there is a sense of self-importance to the film, which is most prominent in its complex mythology and backstory. The world building in Legend of the Red Reaper plays as important a role as the storytelling. It is, after all, a sword and sorcery film.

Legend of the Red Reaper is a completely unique film. Rather than follow the formulas of old, it creates its own formula, one that is sure to be copied by others in the years to come. The film has an undeniable appeal, and will be the indie hit of the year. 

The Legend of the Red Reaper will have it’s World Premiere on August 31st at the Central Florida Film Festival.

First Comment:

  1. Great review Jon!

    Posted by More Horror on 02/24 at 11:35 PM