The Wraith is a story of revenge basically, a gang leader going by the intriguing name of Packard Walsh (sounds like a printer manufacturer!) kills teenager Jamie Hankins after discovering him with his girlfriend, beating him to death with incredible and uncontrollable violence. However, that isn’t the end of the story as Jamie is reincarnated in the form of Jake Kesey who possesses a car which cannot be destroyed or beaten. Jake, now assisted by “the Wraith” takes his revenge on the gang, taking the law into his own hands and wiping them out one by one.
The Wraith is the movie that put Charlie Sheen and Sherylin Fenn on the map and as such is considered something of a cult classic. However it is Nick Cassavetes who really stands out for his performance as Packard, a believable portrait of a dangerously unhinged man. The other actors tend to give the film exactly what it demands of them, over the top and shallow performances, but then, this is an action based B movie, not Ibsen. Also, the Wraith’s invincible car is great and is shot really nicely, as are the frequent car chases as Packard’s gang bully the townspeople into drag racing them so that they can claim their cars as prizes. The supernatural reincarnation of Jamie as Jake is handled well and again is married to some interestingly shot visuals and if you have never seen before this reincarnation is quite a surprise, raising the film from being just another bog standard car chase flick.
Also of note is the excellent and powerful soundtrack, evoking heady memories of the mid 80s and complementing the visuals perfectly. The effects are well handled and have a wonderfully old school feel about them, this being before CGI took over and spoiled all the fun. In part, this gives the film a realistic edge, the car chases are clearly genuine rather that cartoony over the top computer models performing ridiculous stunts. All in all, a good way to spend an evening!
Director & Writer: Mike Marvin
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Nick Cassavetes, Sherilyn Fenn
The Wraith will be available soon on watch movies online site.