Review by: Dave Wain
Stars: Christopher Mann, Ernie Hudson, Laura-Lynn Cottrel, Doug Bradley
Written by: Christian Grillo
UK Certification: 18
UK RRP: £9.99
DVD Region: 2
Runtime: 101 minutes
Directed by: Christian Grillo
Wasteland (formerly Deer Crossing), the latest title from the breakout DVD company of the year – 101 Films – is pitched in the vein of a crime-horror, and for genre enthusiasts it has cast two iconic veterans of the field, Doug Bradley (Hellraiser) and Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters) in brief cameo roles.
We’re firmly in backwoods territory here as we join Maggie (Laura-Lynn Cottrel) on a car journey with her son Cole to her mother-in-laws. Her husband Michael (Warren Hemenway) is unable to travel with her as he has work commitments as a doctor in the local hospital. By ‘work commitments’ though, it transpires that Michael is busy getting intimate with a colleague (a nurse wearing black stockings and suspenders? Gimme a break!). Disaster soon strikes for Maggie though, as part-way into her journey she becomes distracted and crashes the car whilst attempting to avoid a deer. She’s rescued from the wreck and carried to someone’s property, but before too much is revealed we cut to ‘8 years later’ and find Michael receiving a phone call from someone that claims to be his long lost son.
Michael’s first port of call is to contact the detective that was in charge of the original disappearance, Derrick Stanswood (Christopher Mann), but having recently retired he’s reluctant to have any involvement in the case. He soon changes his mind though, and before you can say hillbilly he finds himself opposite the town sheriff (Doug Bradley) of the small Pennsylvanian boondocks attempting to find out where Maggie and Cole are.
Wasteland admittedly has a little more depth than just being a film about a missing person. With elements of incest, torture, sex slaves and small town secrets, there are certainly a whole slew of dimensions to keep the casual viewer intrigued. With a kidnapper that resembles Kris Kristofferson after an all-night bender, this town certainly has its quota of archetypal inbreds that look as though they’ve just walked off the set of Wrong Turn.
That said though, I do think Wasteland could have been a little leaner and would benefit from twenty minutes removed. At times some of the scenes seem a little laboured and any momentum that it creates tends to be swiftly dissipated by the occasional scene that offers very little in the way of plot development. Also, while it’s great to see the iconic Doug Bradley in any film at all – appearing as a hick Sheriff doesn’t really play to his strong points! Overall I’d class this as an average entry into the hicksploitation genre with a notable dash of crime-thriller. It works well considering its low budget, and benefits from having a handful of great actors to make up for the shortcomings of the slightly less experienced ones.