UK Release Date – TBC
Camping trips and visits to the wilderness gone wrong are a staple for those film makers without a set or the means to acquire a lot of lighting equipment. But it’s always a premise that makes me feel a bit uneasy when so many of these outings are used as the basis for trite and unimaginative stories about angst ridden 20-something holiday goers. It’s always an idea to give them the benefit of the doubt, in case you come across another Evil Dead for instance, but more often than not it’s just the same old elements without any of the flair or creativity needed to make it stand out. The only thing shocking here is the sheer amount of padding that has been included, and I don’t think anyone is going to give them applause for that kind of thinking.
The opening scene shows a gang of youths in a sticky situation, discussing what to do after someone has been killed. They opt to get rid of the body, which of course always works in these kind of stories. Rewinding to the start of their trip 18 hours earlier, we meet the gang as they head out a beach in Vancouver Island in Canada. Their travel check list seems comprise of just drugs and alcohol, just so you know they are real party animals.
The immediate problem is that the focus seems to be Joey (Rob Abbate) who’s the most insufferable member of the group. His sex obsessed mentality never stops and the others just seem to put up with it. Like the pacing issues the film has, focusing on the wrong thing is a big problem here. His comic relief antics should have been used sparingly but instead it’s a central part of the drama for some fairly long stretches. All the grating dialogue and lack of actual narrative development is a sign of things to come.
When they finally get to the beach at last it’s conveniently lacking supervision, and their campsite is tucked away from any other visitors. By this point it’s clear there was a track list of music which somebody involved wanted to include, so every few minutes a new song starts up whether it fits the scene or not. The filler dialogue is endless as they discuss an array of riveting topics such as restaurant customer tipping habits and post graduate job opportunities. Of course there’s even more juvenile chit chat about sex and drugs to keep that motif at the fore.
Eventually they meet up with some other travellers, two rugged Australian surfers and (what is supposed to be) an English guy who is constantly drunk. The classic archetypes. As the night goes on they meet up with this trio after a fireworks display and head over for a guitar sing along which goes on for too long like everything else. While it might seem obvious this is all going to go wrong at some point, nobody seems to realise a second act twist needs to happen much earlier in a film with such a brief running time. In fact it’s an astounding 48 minutes in before anything of note actually happens.
Eventually there’s an attempted rape by one of the surfers, which is cut short and Ian (Eliot Bayne) gives him a severe beating. The guy has a seizure and dies foaming at the mouth for reasons that are unclear. Here we finally reach the point where the opening flash forward happened. It begs the question, why isn’t this just the start of the film for real? You could breeze through the absurdly long intro with a couple of minutes of travel and maybe a quick camping montage, and it would have had the same effect. Ian it seems has a troubled past, as explained in a last minute expository speech. He causes a few more deaths in the woods during this last 20 minutes or so, but why isn’t that the whole movie? The total freak out that results in him becoming an axe wielding maniac comes out of nowhere.
In fact most of the scenes feel out of place. The whole thing feels like a patchy last minute idea as if they filmed all the banal fireside dialogue and realised afterwards it might need a slasher plot or some kind of crime cover up drama. Near the end there’s what can only be describes a random shirtless Australian melt down, and a brief moment of tension as a woodland ranger almost begins to investigate things. Perhaps the first three quarters of an hour they filled with lewd comments and drinking should have been used to set up an actual storyline.