Four friends take a cottage trip in the dead of winter. During their stay, 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.
Title: Death Trip | Director: James Watts| Runtime: 1 hr 41 min | Genre: Horror |
Language: English | Release Year: 2021 | Source: Screener provided for review consideration | Unstarred Review |
Death Trip Review
As the original Canadian member of Sci-Fi & Scary, it’s always very exciting for me when I see a Canadian film or book slide into our virtual mailbox. I love supporting Canadian horror content, so I was eager to give Death Trip a watch. Sadly though, this film just did not work for me.
For a film called Death Trip, it took a very, VERY long time for there to be any death involved. There’s definitely more of the “trip” aspect here, and even then…it’s not a very exciting trip. A group of four friends ventures out from Montreal to Garrett’s parents’ small-town college for a weekend away from the big city. Of course there’s a creepy neighbor, Bruce, to add some tension, but most of the first hour of the film is just the friends drinking and shooting the shit and investigating weird noises. There are a few creepy moments, but none that really pay off, and we quickly go back to the drinking and shit-shooting.
Death Trip uses a bit of a broken timeline to intersperse future scenes into the present events. This could have been an interesting approach but in this case, it was mostly disorienting. I reached the end of the film and there were still clips from earlier on that I couldn’t piece into the overall narrative. It was confusing and many of those scenes didn’t seem to fit the tone.
There’s clearly meant to be a message here about toxic masculinity, or the dangers of Nice Guy™ culture, but it gets lost in all the efforts to shift the focus to the weirdness of this small town. You’ve got the hostile waitress at the local diner, the bizarre townie party, and of course – Bruce. A fair portion of the movie is spent focusing on weird neighbour Bruce and his adult daughter, Meghan. We’re meant to think he’s dangerous and crazy because he moved to his cottage and doesn’t like people trespassing and also yells at trees (a sure sign of a killer, at least in this town). And all of this makes him creepier than the four friends who spend an uncomfortable amount of time watching Meghan undress through her bedroom window while discussing her star sign.
Credit where credit is due, the actors do a good job here with what they’re given. Tatyana Olal in particular was excellent, and Garrett Johnson was certainly well cast. Their interactions felt authentic, or at least as authentic as they could within the frame of this story. And a special shoutout to Skidoo Dude (skidoo, snowmobile, WHATEVER LILYN), though I’m still unsure whether he was meant to be in the film or whether he just wasn’t about to let these people filming a movie ruin his perfectly good day of winter fun.
Death Trip could have been a fun film, but it bogs itself down in trying to misdirect its viewer rather than actually focusing on developing the characters or plot. The result is an uneven film that failed to keep my interest.