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It’s sort of funny how the Grim Reaper often becomes a villain, by default, in some horror films, most notably in the Final Destination franchise. Portrayed as an unstoppable and emotionless entity, who’s only purpose is to devour the souls of the living. But who said the Reaper was a bad guy? He provides a very valuable service -- maintaining the sustainable balance of life on Earth. It isn’t much, but it’s a job, right?

In the case of A Grim Becoming, it’s a job that it’s protagonist, Raphael, isn’t willing to hold, no matter what Death himself has to say about it.

Raphael is a young executive who is well on his way of climbing the corporate ladder of his real-estate development firm. On top of having the swanky job, he has his health, his good looks, a strange but caring family and an attractive assistant, Carrie, who is interested in more than just a work relationship.

But all this changes when Raphael's nephew passes away unexpectedly. He ventures to his home town to attend the funeral and along the way he experiences something fantastic. He witnesses a Grim Reaper take the man's soul.

According to Reaper lore; once you see a Reaper, you become a Reaper. A career move that Raphael is NOT interested in, and soon he is visited by Death himself, who lays down the ground rules and explains to Raphael that the job is non-negotiable.

Raphael resists the urge to reap souls as he slowly becomes a cloak wearing, scythe wielding bad of bones.

In an attempt to save his life, his humanity and the souls of his loved ones, Raphael reaches out to Life, the Archangel Michael and Luda -- a fellow Reaper who has learned the secret or breaking Death’s “Reaper Curse”.

A Grim Becoming isn’t quite what you may expect from a horror films. It’s premise alone is horror themed, but it has more of a “coming of age”, quest/adventure feel to it in the way Raphael discovers what is most important to him, his relationship with Carrie, while he seeks out a way to break the “Reaper Curse”.

The concept is very creative. A man becomes a Reaper and enters into a world where the embodiments of Life, Death and everything in between, including zombies, are real but must follow a strict set of rules for us humans to carry on the way we always have. A fun balance of fantasy and lore.

The humor is well written and at times reminded me of the classic funny men from yester-year, Abbot & Costello. Occasionally, the comedic timing was off. But for the most part was solid.

My only real gripe with the films was the editing. Not all of it. But from time to time I felt the story that was being told visually could have been helped along with a cut or two. For example, late in the film Raphael and Death are in his hotel room when their tempers flare and a fight starts. What could have been an emotional moment for the viewer is interrupted when an older couple complains about the noise.

The wife of the couple is played by the one and only Lynn Lowry, from The Crazies. The hijinks of the couple follows thru nearly the entire film. They are a rolling punch line that covers everything from the smoking’ of the herb, to exotic hotel fornication.

In the end, A Grim Becoming is similar to other horror-comedy classics as Shaun of the Dead, but falls short of achieving the same magic. However, it does follow in it’s footsteps and was a lot of fun to watch for it‘s humor, but especially it’s fantasy.

This film comes from the Buffalo, NY based DefTone Pictures Studios, who has made more movies than number of years the company has been in existence. They’ve done a little bit of everything; monsters, aliens and killers oh my! Even grindhouse centric titles like Black Guy On a Rampage. They are very creative and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.


★ ★ ½