Trip has barely begun when a conversation about softball and scholarships between Ally (Akasha Villalobos, Last Girl Standing, Last Month’s Rent) and her daughter Samantha (Jill Young, The Tiny Life of Butcher Duke, Dear Leo) takes a horrific turn. The girl starts talking about a mysterious figure, has a meltdown, and then kills herself by tearing her eyes out.
Needless to say, this takes quite a toll on Ally who blames herself. Her husband Michael (Major Dodge, American Zombieland, Homecoming Revenge) isn’t the most supportive of partners and she’s soon a shut-in living on booze and pills. Eventually, she falls under the influence of Jan (Peggy Schott, The Pale Door, Fear the Walking Dead) a somewhat unorthodox therapist who gives her a hallucinogenic tea that will allow her to see Samantha again and find closure. Unfortunately, it also means she can see other spirits as well, including the one that pushed her daughter to kill herself.
Writer/director Neil McCay (My Turn, Eleven) sets up a scenario that’s a cross between a haunted house film, a psychological thriller, and a drugsploitation film. Much like in Cookers we’re not sure if what Ally is seeing is genuine paranormal activity, the result of the drugs or tricks of her damaged mind.
It’s also easy to do on a low budget, and Trip was obviously filmed on an extremely low one. The first presence Ally sees is simply a man in a plain white mask. It’s somewhat creepy looking but more unsettling because Samantha had been drawing pictures of it in the days leading up to her death. The film’s publicity made much of the fact that Bjorgvin Arnarson (Chucky, The Seventh Day) is in it, he plays another of the apparitions, a young boy with no mouth.
Despite their presence, much of Trip’s first hour revolves around Ally’s grief, the agoraphobia it’s caused, and the effects on her marriage. It’s handled earnestly enough but the film’s budget doesn’t allow for much beyond Ally and Jan sitting around talking about it or Ally and Michael having discussions. And all of this is in the film’s one location, Ally and Michael’s house. It eventually becomes somewhat tedious.
Eventually Trip takes a turn that, opens the plot up for some actual scares as both an eye stealing demon, The Abuso, and Samantha’s ghost shows up. Jan just happens to know about the demon but failed to mention it to Ally before she got her started on this path. And when her daughter does make contact it’s an unsurprisingly malevolent version that wants her mother to put her own eyes out. But who really expects anything good to come from talking to the dead?
For such a low-budget film, Trip does have some surprisingly good effects. There aren’t many of them to be sure but the ones we get are well done. In particular, Samatha’s eyeless corpse and the effects of a bat being repeatedly applied to somebody’s head. They must have taken a large chunk of the film’s budget, but they give the film some much-needed impact.
In the end, Trip is a watchable, but hardly essential film. Neil McCay has accomplished a lot for very little, but the film never quite manages to make the material about Ally’s grief and its effects as compelling as it needed to be. As a result, the lack of characters and locations drags the first half down. When they take over, the horror elements do deliver some scares and tension but are also frequently predictable.
Terror Films release Trip on their AVOD YouTube Channel at 3 PM PST on May 13th with cast and filmmakers present for a live chat. It will get a wide release to Digital and VOD platforms on May 2oth. You can check the Terror Films Facebook page for more details. And if that isn’t quite what you’re looking for, FilmTagger has a few other suggestions.