Death Trip had some wonderful elements that had the makings of a jaw-dropping thriller, but the length and lack of momentum served as considerable roadblocks. Thankfully, Death Trip features an endearing cast, phenomenal music, and gorgeous cinematography which offset any pacing gripes.
Death Trip follows Kelly (Kelly Kay), Tatyana (Tatyana Olal), Garret (Garrett Johnson), and Melina (Melina Trimarchi) as they venture off into the middle of the woods in the dead of winter to Garrett’s family cabin. While enjoying their weekend getaway, dark details are uncovered about locals and neighbors. After one of the friends is found completely mutilated, the group grows concerned that they are being targeted by angry locals and that this is just the beginning.
There is a constant time jump between the present and the future. We see flashes of the mysterious future peppered into the increasingly uncomfortable present. These flashes at first were novel and exciting, but the film takes so long to ramp up, I was left wishing the film would ‘hurry up’. At around 1 hour and 40 minutes, Death Trip could have easily been trimmed down to about 80 minutes and have been just as (if not more) effective.
The cast of Death Trip was a true delight. The chemistry between the four main characters was clear and effortless. Rather than calling strapping a ‘good performance’ label to the acting display, I would rather slap a ‘so real, compelling, and genuine that I believe these four are best friends in real life’ label on these performances. Kay, Olal, Johnson, and Trimarchi all deliver heartfelt and refreshingly authentic personas and I felt like I was getting to know real people… not just watching a bunch of characters run around on screen and guessing who was going to die first. A real connection was happening and I loved it.
This is largely due to the cast, but credit should also be given to writing duo Kelly Kay and James Watts (who also directed the film) for infusing a lot of humanity into the film. For example, Kelly sees her boyfriend flirting with another woman at the beginning of the film, and throughout the film Kelly and Garrett struggle with romantic tension. These little moments take the film beyond a standard thriller and injects a healthy dose of pathos into the characters, breathing multi-dimensional life into them.
Stylistically this film is a definite success. The time-jumping timelines, the cinematography, and the coloration all serve as a perfect setup for the film’s greatest feature… the soundtrack. The deliciously eerie soundtrack features sudden stops, screeches, and dips in volume that took the scene to new heights. I particularly enjoyed the violin solo as the group made their way to Garrett’s cabin. It was so haunting that I found myself focusing more on that rather than the dialogue itself.
Overall, Death Trip is worth the journey despite the lengthy trek. A great cast, fun story, pleasant cinematography, and a stellar soundtrack make this a film worth seeing. Just prepare a little patience before you push play, the trip is a little long.
7 out of 10