The Wraith 2010 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
There are some movies that stand the test of time. And then there are movies like THE WRAITH that don’t necessarily stand the test of time so much as transport viewers back to a different time. In this case, that time is the mid to late eighties when mediocre pop music, big pants and spiked hairdos were the norm.
At its heart THE WRAITH is a revenge flick, but that doesn’t become apparent at the start. The film begins with a group of car thieves who pretend to outrace their “opponents” to take their cars from them. The leader of the gang is Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavettes, son of John Cassavettes and currently a noted film director in his own right), your stereotypical tough guy. He has to be a bad guy, he wears a black leather jacket!
Packard is definitely a psycho, though you rarely see him kill anyone. Instead, he threatens a lot. Packard’s gang is a group of misfits that include wanna be tough guy actor Griffin O’Neal (son of Ryan O’Neal) as Oggie, David Sherrill as the spiked haired Skank, Jamie Bozian as mental deficit Gutterboy and Clint Howard as the techno car geek Rughead. How this group could inspire fear is beyond me.
But they do. So much so that no one makes an attempt to cross them. This includes the girl of Packard’s dreams, Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn). While carry comes when Packard calls, their relationship is not a mutual one but ruled by fear. Keri knows that if she doesn’t go with Packard when he calls, someone will be hurt.
Enter into this mix a stranger in town named Jake Kesey (Charlie Sheen in an early starring role). Pulling up in front of Keri’s house on his motorcycle, the two talk easily but end their conversation when Packard shows. When they see each other again at the local swimming hole, Packard sends two of his gang to keep an eye on Jake.
The next time a car falls into their line of fire, Packard and his gang confront a new problem. A slick looking car they can’t identify pulls up, ready to take on the challenge for pink slips. Oggie asks to take on the new guy and the race is on. But this car is unlike any other and pulls ahead with ease. So much so that as Oggie comes around a corner after lagging behind, in front of him sits the mysterious black car sideways in the road. Oggie barrels through the car and off a cliff dying in a huge fireball. The black car? Re-materializes and heads down the road.
Sheriff Loomis (Randy Quaid) investigates but finds nothing. That is except for the fact that the body of Oggie seems untouched by the fire and has his eyes missing.
The story moves on as the mysterious figure decked out in black from head to toe confronts the gang en masse and individually. Each time someone falls and each time more of the story is revealed. Only Rughead knows the truth, that this is no normal person they are racing against but a wraith, an un-avenged spirit who has come to take his revenge.
Toss in a romantic link between Keri and Jake as well as Keri and her old boyfriend who disappeared without a trace and you can pretty much guess who is who. But that’s not the reason for watching the film. Come on, just who the wraith is should be apparent not far into the film. No, this film is all about the fun of watching actors chew up the screen, of seeing a revenge film play out and of catching a glimpse of what the world was like then. The new film HOT TUB TIME MACHINE kicks its stars back to the past; this movie shows it like it was. Or at least as Hollywood remembers it.
Sheen is given little to do here but does a nice job with a slim amount of onscreen time. Fenn is at first unrecognizable and later went on to fame in TWIN PEAKS. Howard actually holds his own here. And Cassavettes offers an evil presence carrying on the family acting tradition.
This film is by no means the best thing ever filmed. It is fun though. And perhaps that’s why even though it didn’t do well at the box office, it garnered a cult following once it hit video tape. Lionsgate has fulfilled those fans dreams by offering the movie now on DVD. It includes a featurette about the making of the movie and the car, known as the Interceptor (which was the foreign title of the film) and an interview with Clint Howard concerning the film. It also features a commentary track by director/writer Mike Marvin who notes that the film in part took ideas from MAD MAX but then inspired a film like THE CROW.
Revenge flicks are a genre unto themselves and rarely go out of style. Films like NEVADA SMITH, DEATH WISH, DEATH SENTENCE, ROLLING THUNDER and the upcoming HARRY BROWN all fulfill our need to see revenge upon those who do us wrong played out. Most of us would never consider going through the motions to seek revenge. Until then we’ll have to get our fix at the movies. And with films like THE WRAITH not only will we get that revenge but we’ll be entertained as well.