Halloween Horrors 2013 : “The Traveler”

Posted: October 22, 2013 in movies
Tags: , , , , ,

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It seems that the popular thing to do these days is to mercilessly rip Val Kilmer for doing two things that that most all of us “real,” non-Hollywood people do : get old and get fat. Nobody’s crazy about either, sure, but shit — it happens. He doesn’t look anything like Jim Morrison anymore, no doubt, but guess what? Neither did Morrison himself by the end of his all-too-brief existence.

So — I’m gonna give Val a pass on that score. What I won’t let slide, though, is how little effort he’s obviously putting into his work these days (although, again, slacking on the job is pretty much par for the course, even downright  expected,  for those of us who aren’t actors, athletes, artists, writers, or musicians). I know movies like the one we’re looking at today, 2010 low-budget indie horror The Traveler, don’t pay anything close to what Top Gun and Batman Forever did, but still — there’s such a thing as professional pride, isn’t there? And this former Hollywood “A-lister” just isn’t displaying much of that these days.

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In his (tepid) defense, though, his lackluster, mail-it-in performance is hardly the only flaw in director Michael Oblowitz’s shot-in-Vancouver (where else?), straight-to-video opus, but it’s probably the most glaring simply because we don’t have any earthly reason to expect much of anything from the rest of the no-name cast — or, for that matter, from the no-name guy who shot the thing. None of which is to say this is an absolutely atrocious flick, just that it’s a hopelessly lazy one.

The premise actually isn’t half-bad for a 30-minute Twilight Zone episode or an 8-page EC-style horror comic short story : a mysterious drifter walks into a police station on Christmas Eve saying he wants to confess to a murder, there’s just one problem — said murder hasn’t happened yet.

Then, of course, it does — and furthermore it plays out exactly as Mr. Sullen described it. At which point he confesses to another that has yet to occur, and it then does, at which point he confesses yet again to another murder that has yet to take place, and a few minutes later that one goes down as well, and then — you get the idea. Sounds kinda nifty, right?

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The trouble is, there’s a rather tidy little supernatural explanation for all this, and the film gives that away far too early. Try, within about 20 minutes. And that premature revelation really does fuck things up for the remaining hour-plus run time. Oh well.

I won’t repeat the filmmakers’ mistake here in this review, suffice to say that our personality-free protagonist didn’t choose this precinct house by accident, since the bullies in blue there all share a dark secret that’s going to prove to be their undoing. They’re all assholes who you’re glad to see die, so I guess that’s a plus, but beyond that, I dunno — you really get the sense that this is a hopelessly padded script and that everyone’s just (barely) going through the motions.

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That’s probably enough digital “ink” to spill on this one, apart from saying that while it’s available on DVD, you’re much better off ,should you choose to watch this flick in spite of this write-up, to do what I did and catch it on Netflix instant streaming, since renting, much less buying, it on disc requires more actual effort than Kilmer, Oblowitz, or anyone else involved put into actually making the thing.

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