Thursday, December 22, 2011

REVIEW: The Traveler (2010)

This…is an atrocity. What kind of sick, depraved mind ever conceived of a film this disgusting and despicable? It’s practically indefensible. There’s nothing good about it. But I have to get this over with and finally tell the world about The Traveler, so let’s do it.

Director: Michael Oblowitz
Starring: Val Kilmer, Dylan Neal

And it’s set on Christmas, too, so it’s appropriate for the month! It starts off with a bright, sunny field of flowers and a little girl playing, because that’s not discordant with the rest of the movie…but then she gets kidnapped, because her father lets her play in random patches of woods far, far away from any supervision, like a good parent. Oh, wait, I mean like a TERRIBLE parent who deserves to be locked up for negligence! And if you didn’t get it this time, this same scene will be replayed at least two more times throughout the film. Not for any real reason or anything, but because the filmmakers simply have no other substance, so they just keep showing the same garbage over and over again to pad out the runtime like the lazy assholes they are.

Then we get two cops coming back to the station on a rainy night. They curse casually a few times like normal guys would, nothing weird about it, which prompts the fat toad, whose name is Gulloy, sitting at the desk to say their language is inappropriate. Well I didn’t know police station meant daycare! Seriously, this guy is a wuss. We get introduced to the other cops, who are pretty bland and forgettable.

So they all find out that the roads are down and they’re stuck in the station on Christmas eve in the rain, sounds like a party to me, too. Val Kilmer comes in, and while I have to say I can fully buy the character of Val Kilmer as a derelict bum from the streets, this character is pretty boring too. And seeing as he’s our killer for the movie, I’d say that’s a pretty early indication of how far into the suckage hole this movie is gonna drink. He just sits there. He has no charisma, no presence at all!

Watch as my face never changes expression...seriously it's like this guy's eyes are glued in place that way.

There’s a really stupid moment in the beginning here when Kilmer tells them that he killed someone. Gulloy freaks out and points a gun at Kilmer and won’t put it down even when the other officers come in to check things out. Even though he’s impeding the police process and endangering the whole station, Gulloy keeps the gun up. Where did they find this guy? Did they just take a Boy Scout Camp leader and put him in a cop uniform? He’s just ludicrous!

But if you think Kilmer is one-dimensional and dull, wait until you see our main character Detective Black, played by Dylan Neal. He was the father of the girl in the opening, whose wife divorced him after he lost their child. I guess we’re supposed to sympathize or something, but honestly it’s not played up too much, and why would you want to anyway? The guy’s a complete tool. He’s never nice to anyone, constantly shouts and puts people down and on top of that, HE’S THE KIND OF PARENT WHO LEAVES HIS KIDS UNSUPERVISED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE WOODS. Screw sympathy. This guy is the worst!

So they go through all the motions and get his fingerprints and mugshots and everything. These are really the only creepy moments in the film, as when they print out the mugshots, his head and hands aren’t visible at all. That’s admittedly pretty creepy. But they pretty much ruin it afterwards, as the rest of the film is repetitive, droning, offensive and exploitative trash. They put him in an interrogation room where he won’t tell them anything. Detective Black utilizes the best interrogating technique, shouting randomly and opening his mouth SUPER-WIDE!


Meanwhile, one of the other officers goes wandering around in the back and accidentally gets locked in one of the cells. While Kilmer confesses that one of the people he killed was whipped brutally on the back, the guy is killed by an invisible force striking him on the back and bloodying up the cell. Man! Now they’ll have to clean that cell, and that takes a lot of work!

So then Gulloy and one of the other guys talk about how Val Kilmer looks like this drifter that they beat the crap out of after Detective Black’s daughter went missing. The logical thing to do would be tell Detective Black immediately, but of course they wait until at least one more person dies first…meanwhile Val Kilmer speaks in riddles, leers creepily and talks in a low voice. Boring.

But the real meat and potatoes of the movie is the flashback scenes of the drifter guy being tortured, which are played constantly whenever someone gets killed off. The kills are all shot in a spastic Marilyn Manson music video style, which makes me think the directors just want the viewers to have seizures – hell, that’s the only way anyone could possibly enjoy this crap anyway. And then you get the interspliced flashbacks, as such:

It’s just so redundant! They really seem to think it necessary to keep showing the flashbacks interspliced into every kill scene, like otherwise we wouldn’t get that it’s all revenge for what the cops did to the homeless guy a year ago. It treats the viewers like idiots, and that alone makes this movie completely indefensible. Why would I ever want to watch something that doesn’t think I’m smart enough to understand its ludicrous plot?

And MAN did these cops go all out in torturing this guy! They go so far with whipping him and hitting him with shovels and even trying to suffocate him…these are really supposed to be our protagonists? I’ve had more affection for pot roasts on the stove. For cavities in my mouth. These people are scum! There’s nothing likable about them; they’re just all around abhorrent! But hey, anything to invent more gory, bloody kills to sell your movie, right?

That’s really the drive here – gore. Lots and lots of gore. It’s tedious, unpleasant and puerile. Never is it even one bit entertaining or interesting, never does it serve any ounce of a point to the story beyond the flimsy ‘revenge’ motive that the film thinks is clever. By the hour mark, when the characters figure out that Kilmer’s character is a supernatural entity killing them off for revenge when he ‘confesses,’ the viewer’s eyes are glazed over and he or she is already half asleep. There’s nothing going on!

If you think I’m not talking about the film’s plot enough, well, that’s because it’s just the same violent and gruesome flashbacks played again and again, until you want to beat your brain against the wall just so the banality will stop. Ugh. This is intolerable! Who watches this shit, serial killers? Weird fetishists who get off on seeing a homeless guy beat up by a bunch of supposed ‘law enforcement officers’? I suppose it would be useful as an insomnia medication, but then again, it’s so unnecessarily gruesome and unpleasant that it even fails as that! So basically it’s a movie with no appeal to anyone who actually has a normal functioning brain. Hurrah.

There’s this one scene where Detective Black decides to go into Exposition Mode and rattle off this story about Vietnam and superstitions and all of this, and really, why even bother, movie? You’re trash, and have nothing worthwhile to contribute at all.

So the characters all get killed off, with one of my favorites being when the woman cop is trapped in the car and the last remaining guy besides Detective Black is trying to break the window with his baton. The window clearly isn’t breaking, but he keeps hitting it anyway. Keep trying there, bud, maybe the next one will finally do something different! They say insanity is trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results…maybe this is what they had in mind. Whoever they are.

His death scene is an unwatchable mess of more music-video-vomit-style editing and Val Kilmer’s drugged out muttering over the top, with the added bonus of seeing the cop’s bludgeoned bloody body at the end – classy, movie; real classy. I'd post a picture, but really that would just be buying into the movie's exploitative, poor-taste crap, and I'm above that.

Now it’s down to just Detective Black and Kilmer. Kilmer reveals that he actually was guilty, and just did all the murders for shits and giggles basically. He actually DID kill Black’s daughter. He says that after they beat him up and put him in a coma, his hateful dreams allowed him to come back and kill them all after he actually died. So yeah, that means that everyone in this movie is a deplorable excuse for a human being! I so love movies where you can’t empathize with anyone at all!

Detective Black has figured out that apparently Kilmer’s superpowers only work when the victims can hear him…well, that’s stupid, considering that most of the other victims couldn’t hear him when they died! So I think it’s safe to say the movie is just grasping for straws to provide us with more gore:

At least now I'll never have to hear a Nickelback song again!

Yes, he stabs out his own eardrums with a pen, how delightful. He then runs into the spirit of his dead daughter, who tells him that Kilmer’s weakness is hearing his own name, Stanley Harpenden. Really, that’s what his name is? That’s like looking at this picture:

…and saying, hey, his name is Timmy Jones. He’s a nice guy and likes reading and walks on the beach. It just doesn’t add up!

So yeah, aside from the absurd nonsense of having to say the killer’s name in order to kill him, which is probably the sloppiest, worst-written cop out I’ve seen in a movie ever, Black kills him by shooting him a few times, and that’s pretty much how it ends. Lame.

So, what have we learned today? That this movie is the equivalent of testicular cancer! There is nothing about this heinous film that I can even recommend one bit. It's awful. It's rotten, wretched goop; the absolute bottom of the barrel. Frankly, if you like this movie, I’d have to call your tastes into question. There’d have to be a good argument for any quality found in this droning, boring, bloody nonsense. I wonder if I have hateful enough thoughts about the film, like Val Kilmer did about the cops who beat him up, then my hate will be manifested into vengeance, and the film will cease to exist...well, probably not, but hey, it’s worth a shot! Now if you’ll excuse me…

All images copyright of their original owners.