A Window To The Soul: "The Reaper" Short A Chilling Home Invasion & Introspective All In One

"THE REAPER" (2015)
Genre: Home Invasion/ Fantasy
Length- 12:06
Company:  Mordue Pictures

Josh (Jamie Hawes) and his wife Kelly (Julia Leyland) wake up to the awful noises of two men (Nathaniel Francis and Tom Westgate) breaking into their home late one night.  Rather than staying put while his wife calls 9-1-1, Josh chases out the masked men, but in the process takes a knife to the stomach.

He pursues the criminals on foot outside but loses them.  On the way back to the house, as he realizes how badly he's hurt, he encounters a tall woman (Dana Smit) who is not a woman at all -- or more accurately, not just a woman.

This woman is Death, and she's come calling for him.


"The Reaper" -- now this is an interesting short film coming from writer/director Luke Mordue.  It's basically two movies in one: a slick home invasion thriller for the first half, and then a philosophical human fantasy/drama in the latter half.  The first portion is tense, brutally quiet, dark and moody, with tight camera angles and self centered dialogue.  As the movie goes on, and the thematic concerns begin projecting outward, the shots become wider and wider, and we start to see how insignificant Josh and, by extension, we all really are.

It's not a particularly warm or happy realization, but it's a welcome one.  From a directorial standpoint, this film is incredibly smart.  The visuals from Mordue and Director of Photography Bryan Cook are dead on and conjure some really powerful images.


I have to be careful here because I don't want to spoil anything, but essentially the second half of the film puts forth some really interesting slices of what I'm betting is personal philosophy from Mordue himself, and it's all pretty touching stuff.  But that being said, it's two people talking, and after the intensity of the first half, it was an unexpected way to wrap up the picture.

Even so, the dialogue, and the weight behind the words is so affecting that it's still a satisfying conclusion and I liked the fact that they didn't just do the obvious.  I can't say more than that, but you'll understand after you watch it.

Overall, a really good picture that does its best to marry two disparate parts and comes out pretty darn effective and thoughtful.


Writing: 3.5  / 5.  Mordue's script has some really smart dialogue about the illogical, rash, violent nature of humanity, and it's pretty novel to try to marry the talky drama with the home invasion thriller.  But one thing I didn't get was why on Earth would Josh rush the burglars while they were in the kitchen anyway?  They were already leaving the house.  I guess you could chalk that up to the aforementioned "illogical" nature of man . . . I'm undecided on that one.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Just a gorgeous picture.  This could play in any theater around the world and you'd think it was a feature.  Mordue and Cook did a brilliant job.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Very good work, in particular with the home invasion sequence.  It was pretty intense.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Mournful music by Billy Jupp for the most part of the film.  I loved the fact that the music was either nonexistent, or at the very least extremely subdued during the home invasion.  Felt so much more realistic that way.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Extremely good acting across the board, but particularly Hawes and Smit deserve equal credit for making the last half work.  Their conversation, all that dialogue, could've been so unreal but it felt authentic because of the class act work on both sides.  Bravo!

Final Grade: 3.9 / 5.

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Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!