Review: Ginny Reaper

Written and directed by Niamh McKeown, Ginny, a grim reaper, embarks on her first holiday in one hundred years only to be haunted by the ghosts of her past. Starring: Tanya Reynolds, Lewis Gribben, Flora Bird and Ross Johnston.

There’s something so satisfying about using a mockumentary style, we all know it’s not real but it doesn’t stop us from becoming ridiculously invested in the lives of whoever they follow, whether it be vampires, office workers or grim reapers. Capturing that blend of ego and silliness is a recipe for success that’s cooked up in Ginny Reaper. It has a very British sense of humour and is consistently funny throughout. It’s got a great focus on entertainment, which as simple as it sounds not a lot of films remember to make their films a good time for viewers, but Niamh McKeown ticks that box. The writing taps into the feel of throwing seriousness out the window, bringing in a bit of the absurd and having the characters roll with the punches, while making sure to get them plenty wound up along the way.

A combination which is then brought to life superbly by Tanya Reynolds, as well as the ghostly trio of Lewis Gribben, Flora Bird and Ross Johnston. Reynolds embraces the character of Ginny as if she were an influencer, which was a perfect choice lead by McKeown’s writing, combining the power, urge for success and obsession with social media. She’s flighty, sociable, self-obsessed and repressing emotion, like a character on a comedy-drama series about a group of post-university friends. Even though she is vain, she’s always a joy to watch because she never takes it too far, Reynolds brings a quality to her that makes her selfish yes but also massively relatable. Gribben, Bird and Johnston then double up that dose of fun with their incessant apparitions, their clinginess and refusal to take no for an answer is a great time to watch. The entire quartet all have fantastic comedic timing.

Setting the film in a cabin in the woods was a superb choice, not only because it has some wonderful horror roots but because it means they can so easily remove themselves from reality. The isolation allows them to create their own world while needing little embellishment. It’s clever from both a thematic and budgetary point of view, which is always a bonus for independent short film. It also means that Niamh McKeown can move between being in a very intimate space to having free roam. That movement and freedom to the direction provides a nice representation to the emotional journey for Ginny, slowly getting ready for everything to bubble over and when it does she has an entire wood to run off into.

Ginny Reaper is a killer of a time, it’s funny, it’s light-hearted and all about entertaining you. Tanya Reynolds leads the film with such an engaging fun performance, Lewis Gribben, Flora Bird and Ross Johnston then provide the best of backup, pushing the comedy even further. Niamh McKeown’s writing is hugely enjoyable while her direction captures that classic, candid mockumentary style, throwing itself into the mix. If you have a spare fifteen minutes and need a little slice of joy, then this will lift your spirits.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Celebrating its World Premiere at Glasgow Short Film Festival 2023

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