With its poster depicting a massive, knife-wielding figure standing over a tent, one could be excused for thinking that Camping Trip is another deep woods slasher. Actually, it’s a crime thriller, although by the end of its nearly two-hour running time most viewers will be wishing this was another Friday the 13th ripoff.
Shot in 2020, the film opens with two couples Coco (Hannah Forest Briand, Fake Tattoos) and Ace (Alex Gravenstein, Moonfall, X-Men: Dark Phoenix) and Enzo (Leonardo Fuica, The American Trap) and Polly (Caitlin Cameron, What Happened to Monday) getting together for a camping trip. After much talk about masks, how badly the lockdown has affected their finances, and someone having the audacity to report 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 getting ready to meet with Orick (Michael D’Amico, Zombie Nightmare, Death of a Traveling Life Insurance Salesman) and Billy (Jonathan Vanderzon, The Office Games, The Target). For reasons unknown, he stashes a bag full of cash in one of the couple’s empty tents on his way to their rendezvous.
Written by Leonardo Fuica who co-directed the film with his brother Demian, Camping Trip is the brothers’ first English language feather after French, or Québécois French, language films La Run and La Dernière Incarnation. That may explain part of the problem I had with the film. The dialogue is extremely clunky, it just doesn’t sound like the way people talk. It also may have helped make the leads sound even more unlikeable than was intended.
But even if the dialogue had been believable and well-written Camping Trip would still have faced an uphill battle. The plot is a very familiar, but serviceable one, with the campers finding both the money and a formula for a vaccine against COVID and having to escape before the bad guys catch up to them.
Sadly Camping Trip is written in such an utterly boneheaded way that none of it is believable. It takes fully an hour before the couples find the money. This is after hearing Doc being killed and later finding his body. Do they run like hell with the goods before the bad guys can find them? No, they decide to celebrate since, besides the cash, one of them has a contact in the pharmaceutical field that he can sell the vaccine formula to. Somehow I don’t think selling a formula that somebody has paid for Stage 3 trials on would be quite so easy. More to the point Orick and Billy hear them and show up.
At this point, the film could have still come up with a tense final act and at least been a tolerable ninety-minute film. Instead Camping Trip gives us its one surprise and then wastes it on another hour of stupidity and infighting as it turns into an awful variation on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with an ending that many viewers will see coming miles away.
While there aren’t many effects in Camping Trip there is some nice practical gore including blood gushing from a neck wound. It’s about the only good thing I can say about it. The scenery is nice but we spend way too much time looking at it and the cinematography tends towards being overly artsy with lots of circling shots and frequently repeating shots for effect, the effect being that it ruins the shots.
An almost total misfire that turns what should have been a fast, no-nonsense thriller into an extremely overlong and self-important 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 releases on the same day in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand as well. And if that’s not quite what you were looking for, FilmTagger has a few suggestions that might suit you.