Thursday, June 26, 2014

SyFy vs. The Mynd: Wraiths of Roanoke (2007)

aka Lost Colony: The Legend of Roanoke

There’s a lot of things that turn this attempt at making a horror film out of the lost colony of Roanoke into one of the less watchable SciFi/SyFy Channel Originals, like the uncreative way it mixes Viking undead, understandably pissed Native Americans, and historical fact, or how little sense director Matt Codd has for the actual horrors of the situation his protagonists find themselves in. The last is absolutely inexcusable in a film about an isolated group of people without resources or recourse to help finding themselves not just plagued by the vagaries of nature and the consequences of their own bad politics, but by supernatural powers even more out of control, because you don’t actually need to seek out the horror and tension of this particular situation when it all but bites you in the ass. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I become convinced it must have taken considerable effort to make a film based on this situation and have it turn out quite as heel-dragging and confused as this effort.

It doesn’t help the film’s needlessly hopeless cause either that the acting, particularly whenever things get “dramatic” and “intense” – at least supposedly so – has a certain whiff of school play surrounding it; quite an achievement given that the cast mostly consists out of professionals who really should be able to do better.

Of course, and here I have reached the only truly memorable part of Wraiths of Roanoke, quite a few of these professionals are Australian, so this film doesn’t just delight the pained audience with the usual combination of fake and dubious accents – though we have that part covered too – but also a world where the historical invasion of the North American continent seems to have been committed by Australians, a fact the history books denied us until now. And that doesn’t begin to explain the curious accent of Native American leader Manteo (as played by Michael Teh).

All this only goes to show even the lowliest of films can and will contain some minor delight to make up for the waste of a viewer’s (that would be me) precious time (that would be the time of a guy who has by now written up about fifty SyFy Originals).

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