25th Mar2021

‘Death Trip’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kelly Kay, Tatyana Olal, Garrett Johnson, Melina Trimarchi, Zoe Slobodzian, Bruce Watts, Brad MacDonald, David Kuyek, Joseph Simmons, Brett Howie | Written by James Watts, Kelly Kay | Directed by James Watts

Four friends take a cottage vacation in the dead of winter, seeking refuge from their busy urban lives, if only for one weekend. However, the few residents who remain in the secluded cottage town of Rideau Ferry don’t seem to take kindly to strangers… From the moment they reach their destination, the visitors, a group of twenty-something artist types, are confronted by the ominous gaze of neighbouring cottagers, all of whom have no choice but to tough out the cold winter in this small, rural town. Over the course of their stay, the friends begin to uncover dark details about the inhabitants of the houses around them. After one of the friends is found mutilated on the front porch of a nearby cottage, the city dwellers quickly discover that nothing is as it seems.

Friendships breaking down in secluded locations are nothing new in horror. Neither are stories about city-folk getting into trouble when encroaching on the lives of rural townsfolk. And Death Trip promises both. Only in the end it delivers neither… instead presenting a convoluted mess of a story that enjoys nothing more than spoiling its own story, flashing forward to the demise of each character way before we’ve seen any build up to it. Hell, in the early going the film features a scene from the END of the film that, ultimately, is a massive spoiler for the films story! Way to ruin your own movie!

But then that’s not the only problem with Death Trip. This is a film that follows pretty-much every cliche and stereotype in the book without even trying to find a new way, or a new angle, or ANYTHING, to make things different!You can pick out who the killer is going to be within minutes… Is it one of the townsfolk? The stranger creeping around outside their cottage? Or maybe the guy in the group who acts like a slimy, introverted creeper? I’ll let you guess (though the aforementioned flash-forward will spoil that for you too).

We also spend what seems like an eternity with the cast of characters, most of which aren’t well-fleshed out (or likeable for that matter), watching them talk sh*t, get drunk, get high, ad nauseam. That tedium is inter-cut with the aforementioned flash-forwards to individual characters deaths – only with no context and no discernible reason for doing it in the first place. Well, I say that but there IS a reason we get these scenes cut into the film… Because otherwise there would be zero reason for sitting through this movie! Who wants to watch people in a HORROR movie chat sh*t for an hour and fourty-odd minutes with not a sign of anything horrific in sight?! Not me that’s for sure! Those teases certainly keep you hooked though – which is a plus for Death Trip I suppose.

Speaking of pluses, don’t get me wrong, there are some good aspects to Death Trip, mainly in the soundtrack and the location. It’s the latter which adds a lot of atmosphere to the film, the cold unforgiving nature of the Canadian landscape really playing its part here. For yes, this IS a Canadian horror but sadly not one, methinks, that will join the upper- echelons of Canuxplotation fare. However any goodwill the film generates is lost as the film reaches its conclusion… We get your typical “final girl versus killer” battle, which is to be expected. But what you don’t expect is for the final moments of their conflict to be set to the overly-loud engine noise of a snow mobile! WTF is not enough for that particular moment…

And that’s a perfect example of Death Trip. There are flourishes of good story, good performances, good cinematography, and good direction but they’re lost to the films shortcomings; and its those shortcomings you’ll remember after this film is over more than anything else.

Death Trip is available on digital now, from Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight.

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