The Traveler

(2010, R) Val Kilmer (Mr. Nobody), Dylan Neal (Det. Alexander Black), Paul McGillium (Dep. Pine), Camille Sullivan (Dep. Hollows), Nels Lennarson (Dep. Sherwood), Christopher Gauthier (Desk Sgt. Gulloy), John Cassini (Dept. Hawkins). Music: Ross Vanelli. Screenplay: Joseph C. Huscat. Director: Michael Oblowitz. 91 minutes.

Tags: Thriller, Horror, Revenge

Notable: A few good twists on an old trope, with a deus ex puellita ending.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A drifter walks into a police station on a rainy Christmas Eve to confess to a series of murders, none of which has happened… yet. A terrible thing happened in this police station a year ago, and those involved are about to discover that karma is, indeed, a bitch.

This is not a new plot, by any means; memes from Ten Little Indians to Identity get played to the hilt. Part of the fun is to guess who’s gonna get it next, and by what method. The other part of the fun is watching how the already-unstable members of the Cop Shop react to the various clues that they have left reality behind and are now in Mr. Nobody’s Revenge Zone. There are some beautiful “reveals” in the early part of the film that make it a cut above average, and a few of the jump-scare cuts are particularly well-executed. There’s also a sting in the tail that makes the story rise a bit above the average.

Val Kilmer turns in a deliciously understated performance, enhanced by his whistling, repeatedly, a few particularly creepy measures of Mozart’s Requiem, a work itself famously rumored to have been given to the composer from some divine source (remember, the film/play Amadeus is not history, but it does incorporate various apocryphal aspects of the composer’s legend). We, crafty movie-goers that we are, are reasonably certain what’s going on from the moment our strange drifter arrives; what we’re looking for is exactly how the stranger is going to go about his task, and Kilmer takes us on this joy ride with just the right, unrepentant touch of horror-movie melodrama. Him, I like.

Sadly, the vast overuse of f-bombs and weaponry almost destroys the show. Also, while the cops are by and large not needed to be more than paper-doll cut-outs, it’s a little irritating for them to be so completely two-dimensional. It’s possible that the filmmakers intended to show us that this, sadly, is what America’s police force really has become, and that apart from the supernatural elements of the tale, this sort of thing happens all over the country, almost entirely without notice or correction. We can open just about any newspaper or magazine to find that it’s true, so perhaps it’s also part of the filmmakers’ hope that a taste of Old Testament revenge is a happy thing for us to enjoy. That, and Mr. Nobody’s use of wonderfully tacky jokes about his kills.

Good Friday night popcorn movie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *