Directed by John Mallory Asher
Distributed by Chelsea Films
With the news of a recently escaped convict providing the background to the proceedings, John Mallory Asher’s Wreckage sees four friends stranded outside of town when a spot of illegal drag racing renders their vehicle immovable. Opting to hike to the nearby junkyard to seek assistance, our foursome – Jake (Erwin), his fiancée Kate (Richardson), Jake’s slightly unhinged friend Rick (Paul), and Rick’s pregnant girlfriend Jessica (Kruger) – experience further trauma when Rick’s toying with a handgun sees Kate take a ricochet hit to the stomach.
With the junkyard seemingly deserted, the distraught Jake sprints off to town in order to bring back the emergency services. This he successfully does, but on his return – police and ambulance in tow – Kate and Rick are nowhere to be found, and a very dead and bloodied Jessica hangs like a grotesque ornament near the spot that Jake’s beloved once occupied. From this point the new arrivals, quickly joined by Frank (McNairy), the hillbilly nephew of the junkyard owner, find themselves pitted in battle with a masked assailant who proceeds to pick them off in various ways.
Wreckage is a familiar low-budget stalker vehicle that never manages to elevate itself above standard cookie-cutter fare of the same nature. Most annoyingly, the characters presented here are either underdeveloped stock (the paramedics, police officers) or plain annoying and unlikable (Rick, Jessica). The friendship dynamic between Jake and Rick is extremely lacking in believability, and even head protagonist Jake in the latter stages (when most will have figured out the identity of the killer) proves himself to be a grossly over-reactionary imbecile. The only character that, on the page, approaches actual characterisation is the film’s comic relief, Frank, and while the rest of the cast struggle to pull as much as they can from the threadbare script, Monsters’ McNairy has an absolute ball with it. Every minute of screen time that this guy has almost single-handedly prevents an itchy fast-forward finger.
Asher’s direction is competent yet uninspired, offering only infrequent glimpses of fright-making aptitude. The by-the-numbers presentation carries over to the visuals, which shy away from elaborate or inventive staging, framing and movement, and carry a distinct TV-movie look at times (especially in the final scene). The opening, involving a surprising inversion of an urban legend-type tale, offers up promise that fails to reappear until the end of the film, and the kill scenes are well staged but unimaginative with the flick distinctly lacking a heightened level of suspense, shock, scares or violence. Not that it fails to deliver on any of them on occasion, but Wreckage is most certainly the type of film that simply plays out before eyes that threaten to at any moment become terminally disinterested.
The ending offers a nice twist that manages to present itself in a perfectly organic and reasonable (to the mind of the perpetrator) manner and isn’t too foreshadowed as to be obvious from the get-go, but it isn’t enough to prevent the entire affair being a markedly pedestrian thriller only worthwhile for the most content-threadbare of rainy days.
Chelsea Films’ DVD release of Wreckage offers up only the trailer as a special feature.
2 out of 5
1/2 out of 5