I was surprised that I didn’t see or even know of The Wraith. Given that it stars a number of actors that I simply adore such as Randy Quaid and Clint Howard. Also the soundtrack is simply amazing and makes the film drip with the aesthetics of the 80’s. Which holds up really well as The Wraith doesn’t have the feel of forced 80’s but simply set in the time. But it does suffer a bit as I expect more from my horror films.
The Wraith opens with lights dancing over the desert that join and form a Dodge M4S piloted by a helmeted, leather clad driver. Said driver starts coming after a local street gang consisting of Oggie (Griffin O’Neal), Skank (David Sherrill), Gutterboy (Jamie Bozian) and Rughead (Clint Howard), who are all lead by the feared Packard Walsh (Nick Cassavetes).The gang forces people to race for the their cars under threats of violence to either them or their loved ones. Often turning to cheating it win the races. Until the Wraith shows up and starts racing them, killing them off during the races. While the gang deals with the mysterious racers, Jake Kessey (Charlie Sheen) comes to town. Quickly befriending Billy Hankins (Mathew Barry), who’s brother Jamie was murdered and Keri Johnson (Sherilyn Fenn), Packard’s unwilling girlfriend. Keri and Jake strike up a romance, one that is not approved of by Packard. Who set’s his goons upon them, though they prove to be little problem as they keep getting killed. The deaths are all being investigated by the local sheriff, Loomis (Randy Quaid).
I like it and The Wraith is pretty okay. It just doesn’t feel like it accomplishes much with its run time. Wraith has some great ideas and actually does a good job delivering most the time. Though it would have been nice to see the characters and the traumas they’ve suffered more deep explored and expanded upon.
One of the gripes I do have is Randy Quaid’s character. Who is fun, because of Randy Quaid. But that’s the extent of the enjoy-ability of the character. If he can be called one, mostly it feels like he’s brought in to chew the scenery and suck up some screen time as the character provides nothing to the story. I’m positive you could cut all of his scenes and it would have no baring on the plot of the film.
He does do a good job. A lot of the actors do a remarkably good job. Mathew Barry has a number of great moments and his final scene is sad, though not what I would call heart breaking. Also Clint Howard stood out in what could have been a very mediocre role.
Final thoughts, Charlie Sheen is bland in the film. The man is devoid of emotion throughout the film. He comes off as bland and uninteresting, which is awful as everyone is treats him like he’s not either of those things. The revenge angle doesn’t work for me either as so little time is spent on the catalyst, and is only brought up briefly for no other reason than to hold on the vague plot. Lastly, I was bothered by how Keri’s character felt more like a something that is being fought over, rather than a functioning individual. 6/10