Death Trip Review: A Lot of Potential
In these troubled times etc., many of us are probably daydreaming about taking a trip. However, I’m sure we’d avoid something called a “death trip,” even with the most severe case of cabin fever. In our review of Death Trip, a new Canadian indie horror, you’ll see that that instinct is correct.
Death Trip: As Canadian as Bagged Milk
You know it. I know it. We all know it. They don’t film many of our favorite American TV shows and movies in these United States. Instead, many productions set up shop in the independent republic of Vancouver. (I’m sorry, I’m being told that Vancouver is a city in British Columbia, a Canadian state. Or as they call it, a “province.” Further, according to sources, Canada “is a nation with a government and laws distinct from those of the United States.”*)
Hollywood loves Canada, particularly Vancouver and its surroundings, for two main reasons. One is, unsurprisingly, money. They get good tax breaks and usually a good exchange in American dollars versus Canadian…loonies? I don’t know–probably. The other (lesser important) reason is atmosphere–BC alone has widely varying landscapes, so you can film in almost every terrain.
Most of the time, though, they don’t want you to know that. Sure, every other guest actor has a Canadian accent (“soary”), but we have to pretend everything’s as American as a Tim Hortons apple fritter with the label removed. Death Trip, refreshingly, doesn’t do that. From the distinctive accents to the specific setting in cottage country, this is a movie unashamed of its Canadiananess.
Wait, What’s Cottage Country?: The Plot Summary
image via Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight
City slickers Kelly (Kelly Kay), Tatyana (Tatyana Olal), and Melina (Melina Trimarchi) join their friend Garrett (Garrett Johnson) for a weekend trip to his family’s cottage. The home is located in what they call “cottage country,” rural areas of Canada that are popular for vacationing–often lots of lake homes and such. As you might expect, these areas are most popular in pleasant weather. However, our foursome decides to take a (death) trip in the middle of the winter.
Once they get there, the women find that the home is nice enough, if kind of isolated. They settle in for what promises to be a weekend of rest and relaxation, except, just kidding–this is a horror movie. So actually, as the official plot summary says, “…they discover dark details about the neighboring cottagers. After one of the friends is found mutilated, the group worries they’re being targeted by angry locals.” Party foul, am I right?
Death Trip Review
image via Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight
First of all, there’s a lot of good stuff here, so I’ll start with that, uh, first. As I said in my Paradise Cove movie review, that movie is a throwback to the retro thrillers of the late 80s and early 90s. Similarly, this movie feels like a throwback to the slasher films of the 80s. I love those, so that was great for me–your mileage may vary.
In addition, I thought writer Kelly Kay and director James Watts showed some style here. The film doesn’t progress on a linear timeline–this happens, then that happens, etc. Instead, we get the buildup of their trip intercut with what happens later–scenes of them bloody and disturbed. Not only does it break up the monotony, but it’s also an excellent way to build suspense.
Unfortunately, though–and now we get to the stuff I didn’t like–that suspense didn’t end up paying off for me. Thanks to that official plot summary, I was expecting something similar to social distancing horror movies like Wrong Turn or The Hills Have Eyes. What I got, though, was something…let’s just say, different than that. Further, when I said “monotony,” I meant it. Like many of its slasher predecessors, the film is shot in a very naturalistic way. The conversations, for example, are very realistic. That does not, however, make them interesting to overhear. And there are so many of them!
That’s my other issue with the film, in fact. It is too long and takes too long to get to the point. A solid example of that would be the final fight, an affair that’s protracted to the point of ridiculousness. By that moment, I just wanted it to end, no matter who won. And that’s a shame. There’s a lot of potential here–it just needs some work.
Death Trip is now available on demand.
As always, tell us what you think in these comments or on our social media.
*And don’t come for me about the jokes about our northern neighbor. They’re done in love because I have many, many girlfriends in Canada. You just don’t know them–they live in Canada.
featured image via Gravitas Ventures and Kamikaze Dogfight
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.