-Review by Nic Brown-
They say that a man should not be held accountable for the sins of his father. That may be true in most cases, but sometimes the sins of the father follow the son. Or rather, sometimes the son inherits the father’s demons. At least that’s the idea in writer/director David Kabler’s WANDERLOST.
The film follows several divergent storylines that slowly draw together. A graffiti artist whose images are disturbing and horrific; a young woman, an artist of a different sort herself; and a drifter, hopping from train to train as he seeks to escape his own violent past.
The film mostly follows the drifter, Jacob (Mitch Rumfelt). He is a troubled man who seeks refuge where ever he can, but who doesn’t stop running. It is through flashbacks that the viewer begins to understand who he really is and why he is running. Jacob’s father had his own demon, literally locked inside of him. He had to kill to satisfy the monster within and it seemed that the death had to not just spill blood, but cause grief and sorrow as well. He gave Jacob a puppy to keep and raise, and then when the boy had grown attached to it, he took it from Jacob and killed it in a violent ritual right before the boy’s horrified eyes.
As Jacob grew, the seeds of hatred his father had planted that day grew, and when he was old enough and strong enough, the boy slew his father with the same ritual knife the man had used on his dog years before. This act of violence is what sets Jacob on his wandering course, whether looking for escape or redemption it’s hard to say. But where he goes, violence seems to follow.
Jacob’s path crosses that of an old caretaker at a junkyard. The man, though blind, sees more than most as he is a shaman, a holy man whose dog is more than just a companion; it is a spirit guide and protector to him. Jacob slays the dog with the knife that now seems to symbolize the curse of violence on his soul and flees. He returns to his father’s grave where he sees Zoe (Aubrey Adams) paying respects to her own father’s memory with a collage of photos and images showing her love for him.
WANDERLOST is more like the X-FILES than the EXORCIST. Although the story centers around supernatural forces of good and evil, they are seldom seen and not as overt as one might expect. That doesn’t lessen the film’s effect; in fact it enhances it as we see Jacob’s actions more as a series of choices than as a mindless act compelled upon him by an evil force. That is not to say that he isn’t driven by his demon, but in the end it does seem to be Jacob’s decisions that lead to the path he follows.
The film is set in a stark world of urban decay and Kabler uses the setting, along with the disturbing images painted by the graffiti artist, to create a bleak landscape where Jacob’s evil actions seem almost at home. When Zoe creates her art, Kabler changes the impression from bleakness to warmth. Her apartment is lit as much by soft candles as electric light and the art she makes is colorful and filled with obvious love. This contrasts with Jacob’s colder, less human reality, and helps the view understand why he’s drawn to her like a moth to the flame. In fact the film’s cinematography works on many levels to not just show the story, but to set the mood and tone for the scenes. This is a quality that one would expect, but that few films seem to deliver.
WANDERLOST is not a special effects driven horror film about demonic possession. Rather, it is a story driven by character and setting combined to make, not a horror movie so much as horrifying tale. If you are looking for unstoppable slashers or the undead devouring flesh, WANDERLOST is not for you. If, however, you want an intelligent tale of the struggle between the light and darkness, with elements of supernatural fantasy brewed in for flavor, then watch David Kabler’s WANDERLOST. You may find that it is more than you expect.