Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Wanderer

Director: Richard Poche
Writer: Aaron Pope
Producer: Errol Poche
Cast: Liz DiPrinzio, Erika Smith, Taya Asimos
Country: USA
Year of release: 2006
Reviewed from: screener DVD

The Wanderer is a nicely produced, twenty-minute ghost film from Richard Poche (Oracle, The Wicked, A Candle in the Dark) with a simple premise bolstered by some stylish photography.

Gina (Taya Asimos) and Lucy (Liz DiPrinzio) are on the way back from the funeral of Sarah, cousin of the former, best friend of the latter. Sarah can’t have been terribly popular, despite appearing in flashbacks as a very pretty, happy young woman, because there are only three people at the graveside: Lucy, Gina and a young priest, Father O’Neal (Cliff Poche).

The funeral must also be an inconveniently long way away from where the only two mourners live as it’s pitch dark before they get anywhere near home. (Sorry, I’m picking here, but these things are worth pointing out.) Suddenly a young woman appears in the path of Gina’s car, clad only in a white dress and with her long dark hair hanging over her face in a frankly Ring-esque way. She’s played by Erika Smith (who appears to be the same Erika Smith that was in The Sexy Adventures of Van Helsing!) and, let’s be honest here, we know immediately who she is. We would know even if we hadn’t seen all those flashbacks.

As has often been pointed out, the central premise of the relationship in Superman films and comics is that Lois Lane can’t recognise her boyfriend without his glasses. Similarly, Gina and Lucy can’t recognise Sarah with her hair hanging over her face, even though the audience can. This is the main structural problem with The Wanderer: the audience is immediately distracted by wondering whether we are supposed to know this is Sarah or not, even though it very obviously is. Maybe Gina and Lucy don’t know that, because they don’t know they’re in a horror film (although you expect one of them to say “Jesus, I thought that was Sarah for a moment.”). But we know we’re watching a horror film and we know the conventions, so it feels like there’s a twist coming up that we already know.

If we can skip over this - and it’s not difficult to skip over it because the acting and direction are both good - we find a simple tale of supernatural revenge, straightforward and admirably shot. It gets a bit talky in the middle as the ghost explains who she is and why she’s there and frankly that’s not needed. We know who she is, we’ll see Lucy’s reaction on realising this, this would have worked better as show-don’t-tell. The first part of the film - the funeral and the drive home works better than the later part because it relies on atmosphere rather than expository dialogue.

Nevertheless, The Wanderer is an effective supernatural chiller with a professional sheen to it that any horror fan will enjoy.

MJS rating: B+

No comments:

Post a Comment