The Wanderer (2006) – By Jonathon Pernisek

 The description of The Wanderer, a short film directed by Richard Poche and written by Aaron Pope, is slightly inaccurate, not only in its grammar but the names it tries to drop to draw you in. The movie, it claims, “is a supernaturally thriller drawing comparisons to the episodes of the Twilight Zone and the X-Files.” I’ll harp on the grammatical mistakes one more time, since it pains me to see aspiring filmmakers going to the trouble of designing DVD packaging and not doing at least one more proof job. For the record, it’s a “supernatural” thriller, and the full titles of the mentioned shows should have a capitalized “the” before each. There, with that out of my system, I can freely move on to discuss the film itself.

We open on a funeral, where Gina (Taya Asimos) and Lucy (Liz Di Prinzio) mourn the death of Gina’s cousin, Sarah (Erika Smith). The words of the resident priest (Cliff Poche) do little to comfort the duo as they head for home, and their trip is made even worse when a mysterious (and outright creepy) hitchhiker joins them after nearly running them off the road. I won’t give away the rest of the plot, seeing as the entire movie’s twenty minutes long, but the conclusion isn’t anything to write home about. Performance-wise the women do a serviceable job, and the priest, though initially somewhat eerie, ends up coming off as a bit funny when he returns moments before the credits roll. Sorry, but the priest himself is a bit bookish in appearance, so his morbid line delivery is pretty amusing in contrast.

What I noticed all too often throughout this movie was how all of the dialogue had been dubbed-in during post-production. This proves to be a bit distracting, since all you ever hear is the dialogue and no background sound whatsoever. It’s an odd experience when characters who are obviously in living, breathing environments sound like they’re trapped in solitary confinement rooms. Occasionally the film tries to go all artsy on our viewing behinds, adding in wispy CGI smoke or switching the footage from color to single hues, but it doesn’t add anything of value to the proceedings. I imagine the filmmakers wanted to spice up a story they knew was generic if left unattended.

The Wanderer is indeed comparable to more famous supernatural projects, but only on a surface level. Whereas the concepts and twists in The Twilight Zone still exist in our pop culture because they were consistently surprising, there’s nothing especially inventive in today’s feature. I attribute this to the film’s running time, which with another ten to fifteen minutes could have allowed for more character development and forced the filmmakers to be a bit more creative. As it is, the movie moves at too fast a clip, and any chance of appreciating the characters is dashed immediately. All in all, it’s an okay product for filmmakers I’m sure are already busy with other projects, but I don’t see it wowing an audience.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can visit the film’s website at http://www.pochepictures.com/thewanderer.html.