(Release Date: May 1, 2006)
In fact, with almost no exceptions, The Wanderer looks like a film with a much larger budget than it actually has. It's striking to note how much the dudes and chicks at Poche Pictures wrung out of their coffers to make this movie as good as it is. And it is... very good. In fact, it's enthralling from start to finish, forcing the viewer to stay tuned, barely blinking until it ends. Unfortunately, this is a short, and it does end only 18 minutes after it begins.
I felt like screaming "UNFAIR, Get Ready for SUPER BEAR", ripping off my shirt and going on a rampage, but I've been working out a lot lately, and frankly, I'm Mighty Sore. Sounds like a Marvel Super-Hero, no?
We begin with a beautiful woman on a beach wearing a see-through slip with a little white thong underneath (I love attention to detail). From this bright scene we're moved to a funeral at sunset for a young, beautiful girl named Sarah at which her two young, beautiful surviving friends are mourning her passing. but as the far-too-creepy priest (Cliff Poche's Father O'Neil) closes the service, Lucy (Elizabeth Di Prinzio) and Gina (Taya Asimos) start to experience car trouble.
Believe it or not, that's the good part of their day.
Before long their path crosses that of our beautiful beach lady, played with sexy creepiness by Erika Smith. Before you can say "Twilight Zone meets X-Files" the supernatural hits the fan and we're all doused with bits of it. Look, it doesn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure out just who our wayward Hitcher is. If that aspect of the story was intended to be a surprise, showing her right before a photo of her alter-ego probably wasn't a good idea. However, it's a reasonably safe bet that this isn't the flaw it could be. In fact, the thrills work without this big "reveal" (though we get one anyway). One has to wonder, however... If we know who she is... why don't Lucy and Gina?
Where the film is going and for what reason is anything but predictable. The acting of all three female leads is quite good as we get there, however. All along the way, Richard Poche's skills with directing are put to great use with his color choices, camera angles and blocking. Needless to say, Poche plays with suspense like a potential virtuoso.
This could be a shining spot on writer Aaron Pope's Resume. The Wanderer details the lengths of desire and the measures of revenge, followed by the strength and malleability of loyalty. This isn't some "one note" cheesy thriller with no distinct payoff. The Clincher is a satisfying twist ending evoking memories of Tales from the Crypt or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It also never outweighs its welcome, which happens all to often, even in short films.
In fact, I was let down, mostly, by the fact that there wasn't more of this feast to slice into. I'm not claiming this is the top thriller of the year, but it is a very fine film. Personally I was ready for at least another hour. Perhaps that's the highest praise I can hand The Wanderer... it most certainly leaves you wanting more. Hell, give these guys a weekly anthology series and I'll watch it every time.
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for The Wanderer. As psychological and supernatural horror thrillers go, this one is a winner, but it's a winner that finishes the race just a bit too quickly. To be fair, Richard Poche told Aaron Pope's tale in no more or less time than it needed. Perhaps he just told it so well, I was ready to watch it for a lot longer than it actually took. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go buy every Erika Smith movie ever made. To date there are eleven, not counting a documentary DVD Extra. Why so interested? Well... most of her films carry the production credits of Shock-O-Rama, Exposure Index and Seduction Cinema. And if you don't know what that means... you should. Meanwhile, I'm going to check out more from Poche Pictures as well... Why? Erika Smith's acting is fantastic under Rich Poche. Give me more of that.
I got arrested for Soliciting.
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Erika costarred with MISTY MUNDAE... she should've gotten naked.
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