Movie Review: “The Wraith Within” murders its way through Texas, Can Sheriff Michael Madsen stop it?

The acting is bad, the screenplay is worse in “The Wraith Within,” a low-budget thriller about “cursed” stuffed bear and the white-haired demon who goes around stabbing random Texans in revenge for a horrible crime long ago.

Five friends (Shane Christopher, Zara Majidpour, Allison Hawkstone, Brian Hodges, Gabriel Aronson) return to sleepy Junction, Texas for a reunion.

They don’t look all that happy to be there, amongst the “inbreeds” who stayed behind. Yeah, that’s how the Austin crowd refers to their classmates.

Testy, foul-mouthed encounters with shopkeepers, the sheriff (earringed, pasty-faced and long-haired Michael Madsen) and assorted others at the actual reunion should make our quintet out-of-towners wonder if it’s all worth it.

And that’s before this haunted teddy bear turns up, stuff starts flying off shelves, knives almost impale people, and then “almost” turns into a body count.

No sense bragging about how you’re going to “Jamie Lee Curtis this mother-f—-r.” The only deep insights the sheriff has are “That is a sh—y-ass way to go,” and a smirking “Not havin’ a great day.”

Let’s consult the local Native American (Jonathan Joss).

“Peckerwood, I know you’re not that stupid.”

The dialogue is bad, the line-readings of it are worse. A couple of the cast aren’t native English speakers and the strain of trying to make bad lines sound natural proves an over-reach for them. Not that the gringos are any better.

The deaths are not all that interesting, but the makeup “effect” is modestly chilling.

All things considered, this is just plain bad, even by horror C-movie standards.

It was directed by Aaron Strey and scripted by Carlos A. Samudio, lest you think I’m blaming the actors alone. Well done, all around.

And before you ask, no, it’s not even “bad movie drinking game” bad.

Rating: unrated, violence, profanity

Cast: Shane Christopher, Zara Majidpour, Allison Hawkstone, Brian Hodges, Gabriel Aronson, Trey Davis, Jonathan Joss and Michael Madsen.

Credits: Directed by Aaron Strey, scripted by Carlos A. Samudio. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:17


About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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