With its poster featuring a giant, knife-wielding figure standing over a tent, one could excuse thinking that Camping Trip is another Deep Woods slasher. It’s actually a crime thriller, although by the end of its nearly two-hour run, most viewers will be wishing this was another Friday the 13th ripoff.
The film, shot in 2020, opens with the two couples Coco (Hannah Forest Briand, Fake Tattoos) and Ace (Alex Gravenstein, Moonfall, X-Men: Dark Phoenix) as well as Enzo (Leonardo Fuica, The American Trap) and Polly (Caitlin Cameron, What Happened to Monday) meet for a camping trip. After much chatter about masks, how lockdown has affected their finances and someone having the audacity to sue Enzo and Polly for breaking the law, they head to the campsite.
Doc (Ben Pelletier, Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century Tour) is already in the woods preparing to meet Orick (Michael D’Amico, Zombie Nightmare, Death of a Traveling Life Insurance Salesman) and Billy (Jonathan Vanderzon, The Office Games) before , The goal). For reasons unknown, he stashes a bag full of cash in one of the couple’s empty tents on their way to their rendezvous.
Written by Leonardo Fuica, who co-directed with his brother Demian, Camping Trip is the brothers’ first English-language pen after the films La Run and La Dernière Incarnation. That might explain part of the problem I had with the film. The dialogue is extremely clunky, it just doesn’t sound like what people are talking about. It may also have contributed to the leads sounding even more unsympathetic than intended.
But even if the dialogues were believable and well-written, Camping Trip would still have been an uphill battle. The plot is very familiar but serviceable as the campers must find both the money and a formula for a vaccine against COVID and escape before the bad guys catch up.
Unfortunately, Camping Trip is written so stupidly that none of it is believable. It takes a full hour for the couples to find the money. This is after hearing about Doc being killed and later finding his body. Are they running like hell with the merchandise before the bad guys can find them? No, they decide to celebrate because one of them has a contact in the pharmaceutical field to sell the vaccine formula to, besides the money. Somehow I don’t think it would be that easy to sell a formula someone paid for in phase 3 trials. More specifically, Orick and Billy hear them and show up.
At this point, the film could have come up with a suspenseful final act and at least become a tolerable ninety-minute film. Instead, Camping Trip surprises us and then wastes it on another hour of stupidity and infighting as it devolves into a horrifying twist on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, with an ending that many viewers will see a mile away.
While there aren’t many effects in Camping Trip, there are some nice handy bleeds, including blood gushing from a throat wound. That’s about the only good thing I can say about it. The scenery is beautiful, but we spend far too much time looking at it, and the cinematography tends to be overly artistic, with lots of circling shots and often repeat shots to ruin the shots.
Camping Trip is an almost total misfire, turning a fast paced factual thriller into an overly lengthy and smug dud. Camping Trip is to wilderness thrillers what The Rental was to Airbnb vacations from hell.
Gravitas Ventures will release Camping Trip as a digital download in the US and Canada on August 16th. It will also be released in the UK, Australia and New Zealand on the same day.