Review by Jay Kay
RAPT (2016) is Written by Jerry Janda, Russell Hackett and Directed by Tom Ryan.
We live in an era where technology gives power that is easily abused. We are also a generation of expression without thought of rejection or opposition in the vision we put forward and not good at accepting critique. We are in a period with many technological options that allow us to pick up a camera and think that anyone can be a filmmaker as well as critics.
These types of critics have never made a minute of artistic expression yet feel because they have watched their lives away,m; they can judge film makers heart, soul and creative process. These two themes are the focus of the short film RAPT directed by filmmaker, musician and actor Tom Ryan (DAY 9 and FACES).
Taking place primarily at the scenic CAMP JEFFERSON in northwest New Jersey; we meet the hopeful and committed ‘Filmmaker’ (producer and actor Russell Hackett) who is screening his latest film and hoping to make an impact with his artistic vision cultivated through storytelling, courage, technology and creative freedom. This goes horribly wrong as the crowd walks out of his screening with unhappy reactions and the screening room’s emptiness causes a mental breakdown for the ‘Filmmaker’.Desperate to find a vision that will connect with those watching, the ‘Filmmaker’ comes across an idea that starts to fester inside his lonely and rejected existence. Leading the insensitive and critical critique of the “Filmmaker’s” work is the “Horror Pro” (actor and writer Jerry Janda) who like so many other critics, feel that they can rip apart anything, for any reason. The “Filmmaker” is pushed to his breaking point as rival filmmakers Laszlo O’ Toole (Sanj Surati) and Finn Black (John Iwasz) get the recognition for the same old genre rehash that fans feel safe in supporting and are told to enjoy.
Watching the crowd react at the screening, the “Filmmaker” loses himself to the idea of revenge within a found footage framework. Slowly, the “Filmmaker” begins to execute his casting, location, cinematography and production to deadly results and screening to a deadly speechless crowd.
Ryan, Janda and Hackett understand the landscape and the emotion that is weaved within the storytelling of RAPT. RAPT was written, produced and directed with the fuel of failures and rejection in the different personal areas of the production cast and crew. This is not uncommon at all in this arena and by no means a disrespect because this short film would have not been created, cultivated and executed if not for these experiences. All three creative minds have been in the trenches writing, directing, producing and acting on an indie/low budget scale.
Whether you are involved in the horror filmmaking scene or not; you understand the honesty and painful truth that goes into RAPT. This is told through the calculated visuals that are orchestrated through the planning and framing of Ryan and cinematographer Mark Boutros. RAPT offers just enough character development to give a glimpse into the flaws of each character and madness of the human monster that we see the “Filmmaker” evolves into. This not only includes the appropriate dialogue as well as the physical reactions within the growing madness of Hackett but later in the horror that he creates in the final act.
Utilizing the tri-state area horror community including friends, peers and actual film critics to construct the cast, you get an authentic feel and education of what the life and struggles are like for a filmmaker trying to get his film not only made but accepted, screened and promoted. RAPT has an inexperienced charm to it on many levels as well as a wicked and dark humor timed wonderfully. The short also has a satisfying and twisted sequence of revenge that builds effectively on different levels with the very technology that gives the freedom to create and visually appealing makeup and FX from The Fisk’s. Hackett, the “Horror Nerd” Todd Staruch (who plays the fan Scott) as well as co-writer Janda (whose short film he wrote called PAINKILLER kicks ass!) are characters that impact me on many levels and for different reasons during my time working in horror radio and writing.
While this short film many not take for everyone and for me could be tightened up towards the end; it is a very extreme yet very telling story of what could happen when all your hard work is crapped on.
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