Half Past Dead: The Wait Is Cinematic Purgatory

Chloë Sevigny can do better than this

The Wait indisputably falls into the category of Valium torpor.
The Wait indisputably falls into the category of Valium torpor.

The Wait is 96 minutes of surrealistic gibberish about … well, absolutely nothing. At least nothing discernible by the naked eye or anywhere outside the demented brain of a bogus writer-director called M. Blash. Write down that name, bury it six feet under the nearest dung heap, and pray you never hear it again.

Typical of the kind of pointless, plotless, mind-numbing junk being turned out on a regular basis by film students heavily influenced by pretentious phonies like Terence Malick, Charlie Kaufman, Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze, The Wait indisputably falls into the category of Valium torpor. I could no more tell you what it’s trying to say than I could successfully stow away on the first space shuttle to Saturn, although I promise you that trip would be half as long. Before their mother dies in a country cabin in the Oregon woods surrounded by encroaching forest fires, she promises her two daughters, Emma (Chloë Sevigny) and Angela (Jena Malone), her psychologically wacked-out son, Ian (Devon Gearhart), and Emma’s children (maybe there’s only one, although two turn up at odd times, maybe playing each other—this is the kind of movie where you never know) that all they have to do is wait. Like the Bride of Frankenstein, she’ll be back. Then, after her creepy vow is reinforced by an enigmatic call from an anonymous psychic, they wrap her body in a sheet, stash it under the bed and wait. The viewer waits, too, but nothing remotely resembling a horror movie of any kind ever happens again.

This gives the cast a lot of free time to meander through the flaming petrified forest and linger around prolonged shots of a local swimming pool showing bloated, corpulent bodies of swimmers for reasons that make no sense. Cut to a beauty parlor and more abstract shots of colored lipsticks and fingernail polishes. Noisy planes that look and sound less like crop dusters than B-52s circle overhead spraying a red mixture of water, magnesium and iron oxide over the land to prevent the forest fires from spreading. Sometimes, Emma forces her daughter to watch videos of her childbirth. Little brother Ian hangs out at a gay neighbor’s house, poring over naked male porno magazines. Nobody ever says anything meaningful or relevant. Mostly, they sit and stare at each other. Everyone is encouraged to mumble incoherently. Whole scenes go by without understanding a single word. Eventually, Emma’s husband (played by—are you sitting down?—Meryl Streep’s son, Henry Gummer) shows up after being absent for 90 minutes (some people have all the luck), spots the corpse and asks, “What’s been going on here?” They’re all stuck for an answer.

Ms. Sevigny is not called “the queen of the weirdo Bs” for nothing. (In fairness, she was a weekly television addiction as one of the polygamous Mormon wives on the hit TV series Big Love.)  But not since she performed real-time fellatio on scruffy Vincent Gallo in the forgettable 2003 bomb The Brown Bunny has she stooped this low.

STARRING Jena Malone, Chloë Sevigny and Luke Grimes

Half Past Dead: <em>The Wait</em> Is Cinematic Purgatory