UK Release date: 22nd August 2011
Director: John Mallory Asher
Starring: Scoot Mcnairy, Aaron Paul, Kelly Kruger, Mike Erwin
Running time: 90 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Wreckage is a new horror movie directed by John Mallory Asher, best known for the role of Gary Wallace in the TV version of Weird Science. It’s a shame that he didn’t spend more time watching horror movies as a teenager, because Wreckage ticks off almost every cliché in the ‘Slasher Movie Handbook’. The first character we meet is happy to get into a strangers car in the dead of night, despite hearing on the radio that a psychopath is on the loose - she may as well have ‘victim’ tattooed on her forehead. Mobile phones have no reception, which I could understand if the movie was set on the moon, and the wreckage yard they break into was built on an Indian burial ground. It soon becomes clear that some film titles write themselves.
Jared (Mike Erwin, Hulk), Kate (Cameron Richardson, Harpers Island), Rick (Aaron Paul, The Last House on the Left), and Jessica (Kelly Kruger, The Young and the Restless) find themselves stranded in a wreckage yard after their car breaks down during a drag race. As it turns out, the spare parts they’re looking for are – as the tagline gleefully informs us – likely to be their own. Nightmares past come back to haunt them as one by one they are terrorized by a mysterious killer. Meanwhile, the sheriff's office receives notification that a convict has escaped from a local state prison - better late than never I suppose. By the time they arrive on the scene, events have already spiralled out of control, presenting the would-be horror icon with a gourmet selection of fresh meat to pick at.
If the five-minute prologue is anything to go by then we’re in for a bumpy ride, but things start looking up when we meet our likeable protagonists. They act dumb occasionally - the script kind of demands it of them - but they’re not as annoying as your average teen fodder. Aaron Paul gets the best lines in the first act, but it helps that all the female characters are attractive. Horror movies demand eye candy, even the bad ones, and in Wreckage even the ambulance driver is hot. Bevin Prince doesn’t get much screen time but she sure makes it count, and I’m pretty sure Kelly Kruger only got the part because of her surname - that and the fact she’s pretty damn hot too.
Just as Wreckage nosedives into low budget conformity - recycling the same stock characters and the same stock scares - a surprising event takes place. Scriptwriter David Frigerio introduces fresh slices of ham to his bland dish, one of which is local hick Frank Jeffries (Scoot McNairy). Scoot’s farm boy shtick should’ve sealed the films fate, but Frank is blessed with some hilarious dialogue, and whenever he’s on screen the rest of the cast seem to up their game. Sheriff Macabee (Roger Perry) acts like he’s just stepped off an Airplane movie, and by embracing its own stupidity; Wreckage evolves into a dumb but surprisingly fun night in.
McNairy’s screen presence is cemented when his character is neglected in favour of the films main stars, and all of a sudden Wreckage loses its way again. The final act resorts to familiar horror cliché, not to mention a needless flashback that suggests the filmmakers think we’re as dumb as the characters they’ve created on screen. The promising second act is all but forgotten in favour of tired exposition and a complete lack of hot girls. Just as I was starting to enjoy myself, I found myself in familiar territory, surrounded by mediocre filmmaking and predictable scares.
Wreckage isn’t the car crash I anticipated - Asher’s film is saved by amusing support and a knowing change of gears in the second act - but there isn’t enough here to warrant a closer look under the bonnet. The tagline may read, “The missing parts may be your own”, but what they actually meant to say was - without intelligent writing and original direction - the missing parts are all too clear to see.