March 22, 2017
It took 3 more years after its initial premiere in 2013 for The Wayward Sun to finally reach completion and become available on the internet at the outset of 2017, and it's now been 3 months since its Amazon debut.
So far, opinions have ranged from heaping praise, as in, "This is a real gem that will stay on my mind for a long time." to... not-so-great, as in, "I can't give 0 stars. Horrible movie."
So we asked ourselves, what is so polarizing about this movie? Why are some opinions so fervently negative?
We thought we'd take a look at what the reviewers themselves had to say, and try our best to respond. Many of the largest criticisms seem to be hinged on the accuracy of the movie, so let's take a look at what some of our harshest critics have to say and how it stands up to scrutiny.
"all the characters would have died by the end of the second day without water." - Vittoria
Humans can survive for up to an entire week without water under normal conditions. No more than 3 days pass in this film, and the characters are able to consume several bottles of water in that time. They are not completely without water until the very end. The distance covered in the film is not great; they are not walking the entire day. While it is certainly possible to die quickly under these circumstances, it is not the only possible outcome. Further reading.
"I think that Cacti are edible; they are surrounded by them." - lawrence chan
The main characters are not desert survivalists. They are spring breakers on a poorly chosen shortcut with more drugs and beer than bottles of water. That said, if they were desert survivalists, and knew how to harvest cacti, they would know that the energy output to obtain water from a cactus, low yield, and potential diarrhea/illness that it leads to, make it a less than ideal choice to survive off of. Further reading.
"wouldn't it be more sensible to do more hiking at night" - lawrence chan
This is not a documentary on the best way to survive in the desert. The characters' choices are intentionally questionable. This film is a story about a series of errors, not a debate on best methods. Further reading.
"don't you think it's unbelievably stupid to keep smoking dust at night when you're dehydrated" - lawrence chan
Nothing escapes you...
"when she finds mud (in the most unlikely of spots) wouldn't it be more sensible to filter and squeeze the water through her tee shirt?" - lawrence chan
...Except maybe this.
1. She doesn't actually find mud. She is hallucinating. The swimming sequence and dry, bloodied hands are some indicators of this.
2. Yes, it would be sensible to filter the water -- if she were a sensible character and if the water ever actually existed for her to drink in the first place. (See: #1)
3. A dried up pond, here an actual site in an actual desert as seen in the film, is a reasonable place to look for subterranean water in the desert. As far as "likely" spots to find water in the desert go, had rain been recent, this was no less a good idea than cracking into a cactus, and likely a wiser and less acidic choice had it produced results. Further reading.
"what happened to the map and compass." - lawrence chan
The map is visible folded in Chaz's back pants pocket throughout the film and Wren is seen storing the compass in her boot during their first day of walking. Both of these items become less useful when they realize the compass had not been giving an accurate reading which is why they are not brought out later in the film.
"Unrealistic to anyone who has been in either Mexico or the desert. Actually, anyone who has been camping within 20 minutes of Suburban Arizona would find faults in their treatment of the actual environment surrounding them." - J.E.K. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Our shooting locations can be found here and here. The movie was filmed in the exact desert it took place in, several hours southeast of Quartzsite, Arizona, which is a town off I-10 between Phoenix and Los Angeles. The film was also written in the desert, after hiking the distance described in the film. The crew lived in the desert during the month-long production in 2012. The sights, sounds, and expressions are all authentic. (Our little PSA to anyone thinking about making the trip themselves, exercise extreme caution in the desert sun and be aware of the wildlife. It is a beautiful, unforgettable place to visit, but it is also unforgiving.)
"they should have been a pile of bleached bones a long time ago because of all of the above." - lawrence chan
"she should've been a pile of bleached bones long ago." - J.E.K.
(Great minds think alike, apparently.)
Impossible in 3 days. What is possible in 3 days is to survive on minimal water.
"I don't understand why this production company exists" - J.E.K.
Purely to annoy you.
Thank you to all of our reviewers, both positive and negative, sensible and otherwise. We're truly flattered that some of you created accounts specifically to write this one review. :) You guys rock! Sincerely, thank you for watching.
Remember, artistic choices are made in films. It is less about the perfect route, and more about the journey. Making films goes the same way. We don't consider this a perfect film either, but we're proud of the journey it provides.
If you haven't yet, or want to watch again now that we've explained away these supposed "goofs", remember to check out The Wayward Sun on Amazon Prime and leave us your review, good or bad, on Amazon or IMDb. Thanks!
(Pictured to the right: Wren and Chaz awake groggily in the desert in a very unrealistic film according to lawrence chan and J.E.K. from Wauwatosa; negative reviews; Wren's bloodied hands after digging her way into an imaginary oasis; positive reviews; Wren and Chaz make their way through the desert, the map peeking out of Chaz's back pocket)