The following is excerpted from THE
CRITIC website, for the original article,
The Wanderer is a slick and taught fantasy horror thriller, made all the more enjoyable by the fact
that this is unquestionably an "Ultra-Indie". Ordinarily what this means is that the usual gang of
production flaws are visible in color and audible in sound. Not so with this Richard Poche film.
In fact, with almost no exceptions, The Wanderer looks like a film with a much larger budget than it
actually has. It's striking to note how much the dudes and chicks at Poche Pictures wrung out of
their coffers to make this movie as good as it is. And it is... very good. In fact, it's enthralling from
start to finish, forcing the viewer to stay tuned, barely blinking until it ends. Unfortunately, this is a
short, and it does end only 18 minutes after it begins.
I felt like screaming "UNFAIR, Get Ready for SUPER BEAR", ripping off my shirt and going on a
rampage, but I've been working out a lot lately, and frankly, I'm Mighty Sore. Sounds like a Marvel
We begin with a beautiful woman on a beach wearing a see-through slip with a little white thong
underneath (I love attention to detail). From this bright scene we're moved to a funeral at sunset for a
young, beautiful girl named Sarah at which her two young, beautiful surviving friends are mourning
her passing. but as the far-too-creepy priest (Cliff Poche's Father O'Neil) closes the service, Lucy
(Elizabeth Di Prinzio) and Gina (Taya Asimos) start to experience car trouble.
Believe it or not, that's the good part of their day.
Before long their path crosses that of our beautiful beach lady, played with sexy creepiness by Erika
Smith. Before you can say "Twilight Zone meets X-Files" the supernatural hits the fan and we're all
doused with bits of it. Look, it doesn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to figure out just
who our wayward Hitcher is. If that aspect of the story was intended to be a surprise, showing her
right before a photo of her alter-ego probably wasn't a good idea. However, it's a reasonably safe bet
that this isn't the flaw it could be. In fact, the thrills work without this big "reveal" (though we get
one anyway). One has to wonder, however... If we know who she is... why don't Lucy and Gina?
Where the film is going and for what reason is anything but predictable. The acting of all three female
leads is quite good as we get there, however. All along the way, Richard Poche's skills with directing
are put to great use with his color choices, camera angles and blocking. Needless to say, Poche plays
with suspense like a potential virtuoso.
This could be a shining spot on writer Aaron Pope's Resume. The Wanderer details the lengths of
desire and the measures of revenge, followed by the strength and malleability of loyalty. This isn't
some "one note" cheesy thriller with no distinct payoff. The Clincher is a satisfying twist ending
evoking memories of Tales from the Crypt or Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It also never outweighs its
welcome, which happens all to often, even in short films.
In fact, I was let down, mostly, by the fact that there wasn't more of this feast to slice into. I'm not
claiming this is the top thriller of the year, but it is a very fine film. Personally I was ready for at least
another hour. Perhaps that's the highest praise I can hand The Wanderer... it most certainly leaves
you wanting more. Hell, give these guys a weekly anthology series and I'll watch it every time.
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for The Wanderer. As psychological and supernatural horror
thrillers go, this one is a winner, but it's a winner that finishes the race just a bit too quickly. To be
fair, Richard Poche told Aaron Pope's tale in no more or less time than it needed. Perhaps he just told
it so well, I was ready to watch it for a lot longer than it actually took. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's
time for me to go buy every Erika Smith movie ever made. To date there are eleven, not counting a
documentary DVD Extra. Why so interested? Well... most of her films carry the production credits
of Shock-O-Rama, Exposure Index and Seduction Cinema. And if you don't know what that means...
you should. Meanwhile, I'm going to check out more from Poche Pictures as well... Why? Erika
Smith's acting is fantastic under Rich Poche. Give me more of that.
When a film draws comparisons to The Twilight Zone on the DVD packaging, I tend to worry. You
television shows that try to compare themselves to it (even if it's just by using a quote from someone
else) usually fall flat. Tonight's short film doesn't exactly fall flat, but I don't think that Rod Sterling
would have been introducing it to a television audience either.
Now then, the film runs for a grand total of eighteen minutes, and since I don't particularly want to
spoil the shocking revelations and the bizarre ending, this synopsis is going to be extremely short.
Basically, the film revolves around Gina (Taya Asimos) and Lucy (Liz DiPrinzio), a pair of young
ladies who are heading home from the funeral of Gina's cousin and Lucy's best friend Sarah (Erika
Smith). Sarah, as it turns out, committed suicide; at least, that's what the police said, but Gina has her
doubts about what really happened. It's the middle of the night and they're driving down a deserted
road, when they almost run down a mysterious woman in a white gown who seems to appear from
out of nowhere. They stop the car to see what's going on, and we then find out that this woman
needs a ride to her house. Things get interesting when the two ladies discover that this hitchhiker
may know more about Sarah's death than even they do...
Although my opening blurb about this film not measuring up to The Twilight Zone may have
revealed. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting, and the way that the scenes leading up to the big
revelation were shot was damned effective. Watch for the scene in which a house - probably a cozy
suburban residence by day - is turned into something that looks to have come straight from a real-life
haunted-house documentary thanks to some great camera shots. Indie film-making doesn't require a
whole lot of money, but the better offerings do require some talent and imagination, and this film
brings both to the table. I'm not even going to discuss the "holy shit" feeling that the scene in which
the ladies "enter" the house brings about; it's not something that you'll see coming is all that I'm going
to say about it.
The acting abilities of these three leading ladies was another surprise for yours truly. Normally, I
avoid critiquing this aspect of low-budget films since, well, indie directors usually don't have access
to a large pool of talent and have to make do with what they can get. I can accept that and I generally
overlook that side of things, but here, the ladies actually did a great job with their roles. I have to
admit that some segments of the journey to the house were a bit sketchy, but things pick up for the
better once they get inside the house and get down to revealing the meat of the story. Erika Smith is
the best of the trio, in my personal opinion, but the other two ladies more than hold their own.
You can keep an eye on the Poche Pictures site for details on a possible DVD release (I was sent a
DVD, but I'm not sure if they're available to the general public or not). Either way, it's definitely
worth a viewing for fans of supernatural thrillers, as it manages to pack a lot of interesting material
along with some genuine scares into its short eighteen-minute running time. 7/10.
The following is excerpted from the
"MOVIES MADE ME DO IT"
Order "Crimson" &
"The Wanderer" on
one DVD for only