Tuesday, 9 February 2010

No.6 : The Wraith

I’d never heard of ‘The Wraith’ before I sat down to watch it and imagined it would some sort of spooky gothic horror with screaming teens. I was therefore slightly surprised to find it was about a space car seeking revenge to a backing track of 80’s power ballads and shagging kids. The reality may sound better than the guess work but alas after 90 minutes of this pish I was wishing it had been a man with a sheet over his head going ‘whoooo’ after all.

We open as we mean to go on with a dude with blow dried hair our for a drive in his muscle car with his massively over haired blonde girlfriend by his side. Life is good as he speeds along to some anonymous power ballad - but wait! Baddies lurk around every bend. Not your usual teen delinquents you understand, these guys are all over 30 and spent way too long at the mirror this morning.

Rather than steal the dude’s car they demand a race with the loser forfeiting his wheels. The race “makes it all nice and legal” when they take his car away after the inevitable win. Now, I’m no big city lawyer (Gasp!) but I’m pretty sure a contract enforced at knife point has a pretty shaky legal standing. Anyway these bastards rule the town and no one can stop them - not cousin Eddie from the ‘Vacation’ films who has found a job as sheriff, and not some wimpy guy at the burger bar whose brother died in mysterious circumstances, possibly in a haze of hairspray, I don’t know.

Things are however looking up on the justice front when a big kick ass car shows up as does Charlie Sheen on his motorbike. You might think people would put these two appearances down as more than a coincidence but they don’t, and neither should you lest the ‘surprise’ revelation fails to knock you off your seat.

Mysterious Car soon takes on the bad guys at their own game and quickly kills all of them using exactly the same trick every time - letting them crash into him and then magically reforming- even down to the dirt of the front bumper. The local sheriff is having none of it and tries to solve the mystery but he fails to do any actual detecting at all, choosing instead to show up at the aftermath of all the crashes gnashing his teeth and borrowing money off Clark.

Eventually it’s down to the bad guy’s leader, the laughably unthreatening Packard, to take on the killer car and to try and get his girl Sherilyn Fenn off Charlie Sheen before the credits roll to one last power ballad.

This is a really terrible film that looks like it’s been spewed from an 80’s time capsule. For your money you basically get half a dozen car chases and a few explosions. There is no characterisation and precious little in the way of plot. Some red herrings are sprinkled in such as the removal of the baddies’ eyes after they’re dead and a magical component that glows and disappears after the explosion. There are included to add a bit of intrigue but really just serve to make the whole mess more nonsensical than it already is.

The cast is uniformly ghastly apart from the lovely Sherilyn Fenn who does what she does best for what must have been the first time in her tittering, sorry glittering career. In truth she only gets one boob out but don’t worry there are plenty of boobs littered throughout the cast to keep you distracted. Sheen and Cousin Eddie should have known better but I imagine they were blinded by the paycheque or at least by the ear bleeding soundtrack which would have swamped any notes of dissent.

The car chases, on which the whole film is hung, were pretty pedestrian and once you’ve seen one explosion you’ve really seen them all. On the positive side I did like Clint Howard’s hair and the ‘car from space’ was pretty cool although it’s origins and motivations were largely ignored.

If you disengage your brain and drink twelve beers beforehand you might just give ‘The Wraith’ pass marks but frankly this is one banger that qualified for the scrappage allowance 20 years ago.

THE Tag Line : A Wraith of Time 37%

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