Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Traveler (2005)

Pack: Tomb of Terrors
Disc: 1

Subgenre(s): Torture, Supernatural, Demonic

Year: 2005 (IMDb says 2006)

Rated: R
Length: 104 minutes

Director: Jonathan R. Skocik
Writer: Jonathan R. Skocik
Starring: Shawn Burke, Jonathan R. Skocik, Melanie D'Alessandro

Synopsis: A nice drive in the country turns out to be a night of terror for The Chestersons when they meet The Traveler. Their car breaks down and they are forced to spend the night the "Death House". Only one can survive.


Club 18-30 holidays - the sad truth.

Socially awkward couple.

"I just want to cuddle."

Not sure if black curtain or psychic forcefield.

Review: The Traveler is the longest movie on the first DVD in the "Tomb of Terrors" pack and that's not entirely a good thing. The beginning drags and the final 15 minutes are completely superfluous, but it does deliver the horror in bucketloads.

The Traveler is also a "cabin in the woods" gorefest with a twist, and one of those with a "written by", "directed by" and "starring" the same person caveats. It's not bad once it gets going, but there's a lot of lag and extremely flat acting surrounding the good parts.

The standout actor is Shawn Burke who plays "The Traveler" (also known as E.F. Ulric - do the anagram) with relish. Despite greying his remaining hair with powder, he's clearly not as old as the character. He's not even as British as you might think either. His accent is full of excessively rolled Rs which would fool a lot of people until he makes a few mistakes with the word "perhaps". It comes out as "perrrrraps" with no sign of an aitch in there. It's a very good try though.

E.F. Ulric is quite the sadist, and he forces the trapped inhabitants of the graffiti-covered house into a game of what can only be described as "Big Brother with death". They have to vote for one of them to be tortured and killed every hour until only one of them is left. There's a flaw in that the final two would obviously vote for each other, but I'm not going to spoil the chilling ending for you... or "the ending after the ending" which ruins the punchline.

Considering its $15,000 budget, The Traveler is surprisingly gory in places although, obviously, a couple of the effects are quite poorly done. I was impressed by the scenes which worked and almost felt bad for a couple of the victims. I didn't, but I thought I was going to have nightmares about the girls.

As a writer/director/actor, Jonathan R. Skocik isn't too bad in his very Ash-like role. He even looks a little bit like Bruce Campbell near the end. To be honest though, in spite of being played straight, there aren't any really great performances in this. The guy who plays Scott Clarke (Sam Clutter) has the worst line delivery possible, but even that is better than the appallingly feeble cries from anyone being tortured. The pain doesn't stop just because someone has stopped cutting into you for a few seconds, you know.

It doesn't help that some of the audio is a little bit out of sync. At first, I thought I was watching a badly-dubbed European movie because of the delay. It made more sense once I found out (from the IMDb) that Suzan Chesterson is the product of three different actresses: pretty Melanie D'Alessandro plays her for most of the movie, Megan Hartley provides her voice, and the sexier demon version (who you can barely see in the mist at the end) is Katie Stabile. I really wanted to see more of the sexy demon version, but it was not to be.

I did notice the microphone falling into shot behind E.F. Ulric but only after I was looking through screencaps. The "Redrum" and "The Thing" graffiti on the walls of the house is much more obvious than any big technical goofs. I can even forgive the unrealistic rubber props in a couple of the torture sessions.

Overall, The Traveler isn't a bad debut movie. It's mean-spirited and bloody enough for any horror fan. I liked it.

Most Memorable Moment(s): Linda's death by being winched up with a meathook through her face.

Originality: Quite an original twist to the cabin in the woods formula.

Best Line(s): "Now take this. Scrape her legs down to the bone."
Worst Line(s): "Pull up her pant legs."

Best Effect(s): The Traveler's head growing back.
Worst Effect(s): Tony Wallace's fingers being cut off.

Goriness (out of 10): 6
Sexiness (out of 10): 1
Profanities (out of 10): 2

Hottest Actor/Actress: Erica Highberg as Linda Clarke.

Calls you a nerd. Secretly likes nerds.

Picture Quality: Average but grainy
Audio Quality: Below average and out of sync

Rating (out of 10): 4


IMDb or Wiki:

Final Thoughts: This would make Big Brother way more interesting to watch!

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