In DEATH TRIP, four friends take a vacation in the dead of winter, looking to escape their busy metropolitan lives. A fun trip to a childhood home seems to be just the right remedy to unplug and unwind. Amid the bleakness of the winter in the secluded town, menacing, shadowy neighbors gaze at the visitors, wary of the intrusion. The weekend becomes more and more surreal as the four friends experience odd behavior, unnerving dreams, and ultimately violence.
After a stimulating opening segment that juxtaposes images of bloody snow to a passionate interaction in an apartment bathroom, the film seems to be on the right track. Disorienting and effective, it’s hard not to find yourself intrigued. The film starts off with Kelly (Kelly Kay) leaves the party and her recent hook-up behind to traverse the snow-covered streets. She soon finds herself followed by a mysterious figure that eventually attacks her… and she wakes up.
Kelly is running late for the beginning of a fun excursion with three of her friends – Tatyana, Melina, and Garrett. The quartet will be traveling to Garret’s childhood home in the country to get away from the hustle and drama of the city. This is when the DEATH TRIP begins.
What follows is a good deal of character development between these four friends, along with some nuggets of a mystery that signals that we are in for one horrifically fun excursion. Drone cinematography is used to create an almost Kubrick approach, harkening back to the opening of The Shining. But, unfortunately, the jarring cuts of gore and mystery grow tiresome. The trip becomes almost dull, and what starts as an attempt at building tension and mystery becomes tedious. The film is much too long for the eventual payoff.
Director James Watts does a credible job with his team, including lead actress Kelly Kay. The cinematography is compelling and captures the gloomy, winter scenes nicely. The rest of the cast is all solid, and you find yourself drawn to these characters. But the real villain here is the film’s length. With some editing choices, including cutting some story points that don’t lead anywhere, this could have been a taut, ninety-minute thriller. But, at one hour and forty-two minutes, the film becomes lifeless.
DEATH TRIP is a film that has so much going for it. A good cast, an intriguing concept, and beautifully captured imagery, but unfortunately, on this journey, what starts out as excitement and anticipation quickly turns into a child on a road trip asking, “Are we there yet?”
DEATH TRIP is now available On-Demand from Gravitas Ventures.