01st Nov2013

‘Wasteland’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Christopher Mann, Laura L. Cottrel, K.J. Linhein, Ernie Hudson, Doug Bradley, Tom Detrik, Kevin Fennell | Written and Directed by Christian Grillo


Originally titled Deer Crossing, Wasteland comes from Christian Grillo, who not only wrote and directed the film but also edited it a well; and judging by the end result he should probably had help on all three counts! I always approach low-budget independent cinema with an open mind and nary an expectation, after all you can’t compare these types of flicks to big-budget Hollywood flicks. But what you can can do is compare them to others of their ilk – and even comparing it to the lowest of low budget flicks, Wasteland fares pretty badly…

The film sees Maggie Chancelor and her son Cole involved in an accident on their way to visit family. The pair are found by Lukas, a farmer, who takes them to his farm but they are never seen again. Eight years later the father gets a call from someone who claims to be his son Cole and hires an ex-detective (Christopher Mann from The Wire) to go back to the county where his family went missing. The detective finds that there’s something more than just a missing persons case, he also thinks that the local Sheriff (Bradley) is keeping something from him. Soon the detective discovers that Lukas is raising Cole as his own son. But what has happened to his mother?

What has happened to Maggie? Frankly I should tell you right now and save you watching this mess of a movie! I hate to tear any film to pieces, after all it is the work of someone who has actually got off their ass and made a movie but at the same time so have many other people and many other people have made better independent movies than this. It doesn’t help that Wasteland is a film of two halves – the first is a grisly “torture porn” wannabe (I say wannabe because most of what the film tries to achieve ends up laughable) and the second turns the flick into a made for TV movie as Cole is questioned by one of THE worst child psychiatrists ever committed to celluloid!

Its not all bad. Some of the cast do a great job with what they have – KJ Linhein as the psychotic Lukas is gloriously over-the-top, hamming up each and every line, which really works for his batshit-insane character, it’s his performance that kept me watching till the end. As for the rest of the cast, Doug Bradley is wasted and totally miscast as the towns Sheriff, whilst Ernie Hudson has a blink and you’ll miss it role. Coming off worst of all is Christopher Mann – he was great in The Wire as Councilman Anthony Gray but here he seems to be phoning it in, with a true by-the-numbers performance. I hate to say it, but does someone have incriminating photos of Mann? Blackmail can be the only reason he appears in this terrible flick.

Have I said enough yet? Do you get the point? I could go on about the bad cinematography, the terrible sound design (there is none), the crappy score… on and on and on. I love the guys at 101 Films (who have released this flick in the UK) and really want to urge you to support small independent DVD labels like them, so it pains me when I say avoid Wasteland like the plague. Even at a bargain bin price you’ll feel ripped off buying this.

Wasteland is out now on DVD from 101 Films.

2 Responses to “‘Wasteland’ Review”

  • K.J.Linhein

    Thank you for your very kind words regarding my performance. I play a far more lovable character in Daniel Kremer’s “The Idiotmaker’s Gravity Tour” which can be seen via Fandor. Each film has its own personality. Some are kindly.

  • Teela Oliver

    What a load of rubbish this film was. It didnt really make a lot of sense, and the film didnt have a very gripping ending that makes you want to go and look for wasteland 2!!! It wasnt a waste of money due to the fact iv been educated in how bad low budget films are!!! APPAULLING