It’s the classic campfire story: a young person goes on a hiking trip…and is never heard from again. What happened to them? Did they get lost and die of exposure/dehydration/starvation? Did they fall off a cliff? Were they eaten by bears? No one can say for sure and that makes the story all the more unsettling. We’re afraid of bears, sure, but we’re more afraid of the unknown predator.
The short film PSYCHO PATH breathes fresh life into the “lost in the woods” trope. The film follows avid hiker and explorer Laurel Rhodes as she embarks on a journey on the Appalachian Trail to find an underground tunnel that she heard of—which may or may not actually exist. Laurel tells us this herself; she’s a YouTuber vlogger who appears to have a sizeable following. Laurel never finds the tunnel. She gets caught in a rainstorm and, as luck (or fate) would have it, stumbles upon a cabin in the woods. She seeks shelter there to find dozens of strange symbols written meticulously on one of the walls. In true YouTuber fashion, she films a quick message to her followers, showing off her “port in the storm”.
As to be expected from a horror film, things for our plucky young protagonist quickly go from bad to catastrophic.
PSYCHO PATH has a runtime of about twelve minutes and none of those twelve minutes are wasted. The short, written by Cooper Thornton and directed by Dan Robinette, seamlessly transitions from vlog-style to traditional film style and then back again a few more times. Abigail Wilson captures us with her optimistic, adventurous, and vulnerable performance as Laurel. The two other cast members, Jack Pearson and Michael Smith, deliver equally stellar performances, even in their limited screen time. In addition to talented actors, PSYCHO PATH also boasts an original score composed by Matt Vucic.
If you’re a fan of hiking movies like The Blair Witch Project and The Ritual, you’ll definitely enjoy this film.