It’s immediately clear from Wreckage’s credit sequence that this is going to be low-grade filmmaking. The various names of the cast and crew unfold over images of nothing in particular and for an utterly interminable amount of time. These are credits than just seem to go on and on whilst the soundtrack simply drones in the background. There is no sense of urgency or rhythm - in other words no concern for the audience. It’s a problem that persists throughout Wreckage as the filmmakers continually make decisions that feel careless or ill-conceived. All the more surprising is that such carelessness exists given some of the experience both in front of and behind the camera: key roles are played by Scoot McNairy (Monsters, In Search of the Midnight Kiss) and the Emmy-winning Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame; the director is John Asher who has a number of films under his belt plus a handful of episodes for One Tree Hill, so at the very least we should expect some veneer of professionalism.
Yet Wreckage is just another low-budget horror captured on digital video and with an appallingly lo-fi soundtrack. Both produce a veneer of ugliness that makes it hard to warm to the film, though arguably Asher does little to assuage such feelings as things progress. The plot begins fifteen years ago with two young brothers watching television. They are interrupted by their white trash mother’s boyfriend/dealer which leads to both mother and boyfriend dead at the hands of one of the kids. Fast forward to the present day (or slow motion rather given the length of those opening credits) and the child has since grown up and just escaped from prison. Of course, this means that our four twentysomething leads are going to become his prey once their car breaks down and they find themselves in a scrap yard after dark looking for a fan belt…
The major problem, other than the production values, is that the filmmakers behind Wreckage expect us to care. It’s their fundamental mistake and a desire that’s immediately apparent whenever the latest murder takes place: they’re dragged out, not for reasons of satisfying the gore hounds in the audience, but as a means of playing on the ‘emotional’ connection we have. Yet of the four potential victims (soon to be added to by various small town police officers) we have one complete arsehole, one who is clearly being set up as the hero of the piece (a basic sketching in of his past decides that he has a military background) and two girls who are entirely non-descript. Furthermore, the reason for their plight - i.e., the reason why their car has broken down - relates to a particularly ridiculous road race with some rich guy in a sports car. It’s all just too stupid to prompt any kind of reaction beyond indifference.
This haphazard approach to plot development and narrative twists and turns continues with the seemingly on-off memories that most of the characters have with regards to the psychopath on the loose. Initially, when people begin to disappear or turn up dead it’s decided by the local sheriff that clearly one of the four leads must be guilty - and this despite discussion of the escapee convict in the previous scene! Equally ill thought out is the continual reference to said convict as a serial killer, even though - at this point - he is only known to have killed those two people in his youth. It’s a minor complaint, perhaps even a churlish one, as it doesn’t really take anything away from Wreckage - but then it does perfectly sum up the overall level of ineptitude.
Wreckage is released by Chelsea Films on August 22nd in a very simple package. The single-layered disc houses just the 83-minute film and its trailer with the option to watch with DD2.0 or DD5.1 soundtracks. Given the poor production values neither sounds particularly great, whilst the image is similarly poor. With that said it is difficult to ascertain whether any of the issues that arise are the result of Wreckage’s production or its transfer onto disc. Either way don’t expect anything beyond the merely watchable. Needless to say, optional English subtitles for the hard of hearing are not available.