The Wisher (2002)

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Released 2-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Trailer-Tempo, Second To Die
Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 83:08
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Gavin Wilding
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Ron Silver
Liane Balaban
Drew Lachey
Siri Baruc
Billy Morton
Wendy Anderson
Iain MacLean
Ariel Bastian
Jared Van Snellenberg
Andrea Runge
Rob Van Meenan
Melissa Repka
Jody Peters
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Chris Ainscough


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

There's something about Mary...but can you be arsed to find out what?

    There are some horror flicks - be they low budget or state-of-the-art blockbusters - that can only be described as magnificent in both style, direction, suspense and sometimes even humour. Sadly, The Wisher is not one of them.

    Released in its native Canada as Spliced (a quite apt title given the plot line...) it was subsequently a straight to video release in the USA and the UK. In Australia we now have the opportunity to view this formulaic, not very scary horror film on DVD.

    Mary (Liane Balaban) is an attractive young lady, who has a passion for horror films, and a tendency to sleep walk around the local neighbourhood in a rather unsettling fashion. Around the time of her 18th birthday, Mary goes with a group of school friends to the local multiplex, to watch the latest in teen horror sensations - The Wisher. Before the final credits roll, Mary is vomiting in the aisles - and not even using the thoughtfully provided Wisher vomit bags. Unfortunately, this means that she doesn't get to see the end of the flick...

    The story she missed focuses on a so-called Wisher - a tree spirit that can be released from his arboreal captivity if three people say his name. Once on parole, our tree-dwelling genie can grant the wishes of the person who frees him from his woody shackles. Unfortunately, the Wisher has a sick sense of humour, and twists the wishes into a cruel and often lethal form. It seems, however, that the Wisher may be more than a fictional character. Mary starts seeing a ghostly face and dark robes (Scream) in the trees around her home, and inadvertently wishes that her father would just "go away"...resulting in his death in a fiery car crash. Despite numerous counselling sessions with the school shrink Doctor Campbell (Ron Silver), who only advises she consume sleeping pills (Nightmare on Elm Street), Mary cannot get over the idea that someone is stalking her.

    Further inadvertent wishes follow, and further (Carrie) fatal accidents (involving razor sharp fingernails - Nightmare on Elm Street again) start befalling those who Mary does not particularly care for. Is the Wisher stalking Mary? When she searches for information on the internet (FearDotCom), Mary (The Bible) discovers that the film has been banned in some states - teens have been stalking people, killing their sisters (Halloween) and so on after viewing the (Ringu) movie. A quick visit to the projection room reveals that strange symbols are embedded (Fight Club) a frame at a time in the film - possibly providing subliminal messages (Halloween III) to the viewer. On the other hand...that handsome spunk Brad (Drew Lachey), with the aquatic girlfriend (The Pool), who has been hounding her for a date, despite his menacing demeanour (Fear)...perhaps he could be (insert title of any teen horror movie here) involved somehow...? Naaaah!

    Derivative? You could say that. The Wisher is a mediocre effort, light on gore, light on gratuitous breast shots and light on fear. The plot does eventually make some sense - almost - but the characters and dialogue are all so lightweight that it is hard to justify sitting through the film. This is worthy of a weekly rental at best. On the other hand, why not try a round of "spot the film rip-off" - it could be rather fun with a six-pack and a pizza.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this film is pretty good.

    The movie is presented in an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.74:1 which I suspect is similar to the original theatrical aspect ratio (probably 1.78:1), as the composition looks just fine.

    Sharpness is usually perfectly satisfying in foreground shots, but the depth of focus looks a little limited at times with a degree of softness in middle-distance and longer shots. There is nothing significant in the way of film grain to distract.

    Black levels are pretty solid and there is a reasonable degree of detail present in the shadows. There is no significant low level noise present. Colours are unsurprisingly, given the recent vintage, solidly rendered and fairly natural looking throughout - and that includes the skin tones.

    The transfer has no major problems with MPEG artefacts. Aliasing was totally absent on my set-up. There is a noticeable degree of edge enhancement present from time to time, visible as a marked bright halo around characters. This can be mildly distracting on a large screen, but will probably pass unnoticed on a smaller television set.

    The transfer is generally very clean - I doubt this has been run through too many projectors in its time. There are no significant film artefacts present, although some minor specks do crop up occasionally.

    There are no subtitles available.

    This is a single sided, single layer (DVD 5) formatted disc, so there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is actually rather good.

    The main English audio track for the film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 kbps. It is free from hiss, pops or dropouts. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 version available, encoded at 224 kbps, and when I sampled this I found it to be technically adequate - but nowhere near as satisfying as the rather nice surround mix. The dialogue is always clean and clear with no issues noted in regards to audio sync.

    Original music is credited to Chris Ainscough whose other work is of no major note - mainly television and straight to video releases. His work here is by no means bad - not overwhelmingly original - and fits the horror genre rather well. The breathy strings, distorted vocals and plinky-plonk piano do the job. The sound design for the film is really quite impressive - credited to Rob Bryanton - and it is possibly the best thing about the entire project, with some great sound effects and a very nicely balanced soundstage on show.

    The dialogue is well located in the centre speaker, and is complemented by some very satisfying activity from the rest of the speakers. The main front speakers have a good degree of stereo separation with some solid cross-soundstage panning in evidence. The rear effects speakers are very nicely used with some great pans and zooms, and a number of localised spot and general ambient effects. The quality of the soundstage certainly belies the quality of the movie itself. The zooming, panning and fading adds a great deal to the tension (what little of it there is) and I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the audio track.

    There is a quite a reasonable presence from the subwoofer. The level of bass activity from your sub will of course depend to some extent on your amp setup, but there is certainly some true LFE on offer here. The bass helps build tension in the more dramatic moments, and with noticeable bass activity cropping up throughout the movie. Deep LFE is present (during explosions and car chases for instance) but is never overwhelming. Overall the subwoofer provides a bit of bass punch where appropriate without becoming ostentatious.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are almost no extras on offer.

Menu

    The still main menu is accompanied by suitably atmospheric music from the film. It allows the options of playing the feature, selecting one of sixteen chapter stops, choosing the audio track, plus access to the sole extra.

Trailer

    Presented letterboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps and running for 1:53, it gives rather too much away concerning the plot.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    From the little information I can find, the Region 1 (Canadian) release of this film appears to be the same as our own, and so does the Region 2 release. If you really must, buy whichever version can be found more cheaply.

Summary

    The Wisher tells the story of Mary and the bogey man. Is the ghastly, ghostly figure stalking her really a tree-spirit who can grant her wishes - but only in a perverted way? Or is he that spunky guy from school who really wants to date her? Who cares? The Wisher is basically an also-ran. Not a very good one, but not truly dreadful. It is very derivative, with a lightweight plot and so-so script, although reasonably well acted. Not very scary, not very beautiful but with a good soundstage. Worth a rental at best.

    The 1.74:1 video transfer is pretty good.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio transfer is surprisingly good.

    Extra features are limited to a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880 upconverting DVI player, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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