Ditched begins, appropriately enough, with an ambulance in a ditch. You soon learn that there’s a police car in the same ditch and that EMTs Melina (Marika Sila, Tribal), Aiden (Lee Lopez, Hot Box) and Jake (Declan O’Reilly, The Last Secret of Dr. Crippen, Parallel Minds), as well as Officer Revesz (J. Lindsay Robinson) were transferring Franson (Kris Loranger, Winter Kill) and Sideburns (Reamonn Joshee, True Fiction, The Project) between prisons somewhere in Alberta when the crash happened.
It soon becomes clear that the accident was anything but and someone wants one of them dead bad enough to kill all of them. But who is the target, and why? And why do the figures we see in the woods not look human?
Writer/director Christopher Donaldson has a lot of credits as a storyboard artist on shows like The Flash and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but Ditched is first feature as a director. As a writer he has a few credits on video games and a couple of features. The fact that one of those features was Uwe Boll’s Bloodrayne 2 didn’t fill me with confidence.
And in the first act Ditched is indeed a load of style over substance. The forest setting, illuminated by the police car’s flashing lights, looks very much like somewhere you wouldn’t want to be. Even before we get to see a giant, hairy leg. Unfortunately what we get is a lot of almost laughably bad tough guy dialogue from Officer Revesz. From threatening to shoot a cuffed prisoner and calling it an accident to telling Melina to point her gun at anyone she sees doing something bad and pull the trigger, then they’ll stop doing bad things.
Despite that, Ditched does build up some tension at the start of the second act as the plot goes in an Assault on Precinct 13 direction using the crash site and vehicles in place of that film’s precinct house. It’s a much less secure and more claustrophobic setup which works to the film’s advantage.
A lot of the credit for that success can go to Marika Sila who delivers a great performance as the medic forced to step up and become a fighter if she wants to live to see her daughter again. Granted her transformation from someone who doesn’t know what to do with a gun despite being raised by hunters to lethal shot is one of the oldest, and worst, clichés in the genre but she makes it work.
There’s also some surprisingly graphic, and well done gore effects to reinforce just how bad the situation is. Bill Terezakis (Cold Pursuit, The Man in the High Castle), Yvonne Cox (Hold the Dark, Harpoon) and Ashly Mckessock (Bloodthirsty, Knuckleball) deliver plenty of nastiness including a repeatedly abused severed head and some chainsaw handiwork that Leatherface would approve of.
Unfortunately much of these scenes’ effect is ruined as the film goes on and it’s major reveals turn out to be less than shocking. No, Sasquatch hasn’t gotten into the murder for hire business, we just have a bunch of killers who watched way too much Scooby Doo. And that’s not even the least believable part of the plot. The ultimate answer to what’s going on would require so much coincidence, effort and string pulling that it’s laughably stupid. There are many ways to accomplish the same thing a lot easier.
Ditched proves Donaldson has a great sense of the visual, but he hasn’t improved as a writer since he was working with Uwe Boll. If he directs again hopefully he’ll have a co-writer. Or, even better, let somebody else do all the writing, because Ditched is what should have been done to the script for this incredibly improbable exercise in style over substance.
Epic has released Ditched on streaming and VOD platforms through its Dread label. It will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on February 15th. You can check the film’s website and Facebook page for more details.