Once a month, Steve Jacot will take it upon himself to watch a random piece of shit on Netflix. This month, Steve watched the Val Kilmer film, ‘The Traveler’.
“What are you in the mood for?”
“Let’s watch a horror movie.”
That’s the exchange that started the path that led my girlfriend and I to The Traveler. We considered a number of cruddy horror films available on Netflix, almost opting for The Innkeepers for the opportunity to see Lena Dunham bite the dust. Once we saw the name “Val Kilmer,” however, our fate was sealed. We had to watch The Traveler.
Why was Kilmer the primary selling point? Mainly due to the man’s fantastically strange Twitter account. He posts tons unusual selfies, often dressed up as Mark Twain. We really couldn’t turn down the prospect of Kilmer as the antagonist in a horror flick. He did not disappoint.
The Traveler as a whole is a typical B-movie mess. Most of it takes place in a decrepit police station on a dark, stormy Christmas Eve. It’s supposed to be a small town, but they must have raided an NYPD junk yard for supplies. The police station looks like a level of of Arkham Asylum. It’s falling apart. It looks like the film crew just found a building marked for demolition and shooed away all the homeless people and cats.
The story is even messier. Alexander Black’s daughter was abducted in the meadows or some bullshit. Black and his fellow cops captured a vagrant and tortured him. The vagrant ended up in a coma. But, oh noes, he was the wrong man! Oopsie daisie. But he was the right guy! The story ends on an idiotic note in an attempt to make the protagonists seem more noble. I mean, as noble as people can be who strung a guy up in a jail cell and cut out his tongue with a pair of scissors just before they hit him in the stomach with a shovel and suffocated him with a plastic bag.
Kilmer’s character is named Mr. Nobody, but he’s really just an astral projection of recently deceased vagabond. A magical vengeance ghost if you will. He laughs and whispers his way through this super weird performance. Mr. Nobody kills the police officers responsible for his coma and eventual death by confessing to the murder as it happens. To clarify: Mr. Nobody says something happens and then it actually happens. Yeah.
How do you beat a man who makes anything he says happen? Detective Black does this by deafening himself, certainly no easy task. How does a person quickly and easily deafen themselves? Why, it’s simple my friend! By jamming the special pen your daughter gave you right into your god damn ears!
The thing is, you go into The Traveler just wanting to see Kilmer have fun fucking around as a mysterious character, and that’s what you get. Of course it’s a terrible movie. Odds are that you haven’t even heard about it until just now. It looks pretty ok for a low budget slasher. The non-Kilmer actors don’t always make you want to put your favorite pen in your ears (only about 70% of the time!). The dialogue tries to be too edgy at times, with lines like, “Crank the fucking heat down, It’s like Christmas in Auschwitz in here for fuck’s sake.” You can find that line a mere 3 and a half minutes into the film.
You might not make it all the way through The Traveler, but it’s worth a shot if you’ve got a six pack and a dead Friday night.