Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Traveler

Oy. Three movies into this boxed set and I’m already deeply regretting having purchased it. You should all really get your own copies and follow along with me so that you can properly understand the pain I’m going through.

The Traveler gets it wrong on pretty much every level. The story is a mix of Survivor and a torture porn film, with the characters trapped in a house by a demon who makes them keeping voting for one of their own to be tortured to death. Given how well it’s done, though, I have to assume that the filmmakers didn’t really enjoy either, but they saw that Survivor and films like Saw and Hostel were popular, and wanted to ride that wave to success, but didn’t really understand what it was about each that made people like them. The acting is the most wooden and lifeless I’ve yet seen from this set, with the main character particularly never really coming off as caring about anything, instead seeming for all the world like he’s downing Quaaludes before each take. This would actually seem to have some level of continuity, as his wife spends a good chunk of the movie constantly shifting position like she’s going through withdrawal. The demonic figure is equally retarded, as he seems to be spending most of his time trying to ensure he doesn’t screw up his faux posh accent and doesn’t actually get around to being menacing or really much of anything. This is especially problematic when they finally shockingly reveal at the end that – WOW! – he’s actually Lucifer.

The film’s story suffers heavily from decompression, as if Brian Michael Bendis had been writing it. They’ve got barely enough actual story for an hour, and yet by hook and by crook they manage to stretch it out to over a hundred minutes. How do they do this? Well, I won’t reveal all of their secret filmmaking tricks, but they spared no effort in showing us the main couple’s lengthy phone conversation and subsequent car ride to nowhere at the beginning that serves exactly zero purpose beyond getting them to Death House. When they arrive, they’re treated to a number of horror stories about the house by the group that’s already there, and a whole none of these stories has any connection with the actual plot, so I assume they’re just there to kill some time. Now, if the film’s story suffers from some heavy decompression, the film itself suffers from some pretty heavy compression problems. There are a number of points in the film that look really blocky and blurry, which I’d say was a consequence of slapping four films onto one disc, if not for the fact that compression problems weren’t nearly this bad on the first two movies I watched.

I suppose it’s nice that the film is actually terrible across the board, since it means that nobody with any talent actually had their time wasted by working on this. That’s about all the good I can say for it, though. Just one closing comment to whoever did the sound effects for the film: when someone swings a pipe at someone else, it should not be making a sound like they had just swung it at another pipe. The human body is not made of cast iron. Just FYI.

Rating: Zero stars

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