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Donner Pass Review

Donner Pass Reviewby Jesse Miller, MoreHorror.com

Legend has it that born out of the macabre and well-known history of the Donner Party was a curse of insatiable hunger that can make anyone who befalls it capable of disquieting evil.

For seven teens heading up for a ski weekend during a nasty blizzard, this is nothing more than just a ghost story to tell around a campfire. However, when they find one of their own dead and half-eaten, they are forced to face the fact that this ghost story just might actually be true.

With their car snowed out and no where to run and with conflicts rising amongst each other, the group not only have to confront the startling truth behind the legend but also work together to survive it.

Donner Pass is an absolutely startling, thrilling and bloody fun romp that starts the ride all guns blazing, putting you on the edge of your seat and refusing to let up till the final credits.

This film showcases an outstanding production, from some terrific cinematography by Bobby Scott, an effective haunting and moody score by Stefan Girardet, to a brilliant use of sound design (creaky floor boards, whispers and screams in the wind). Director Elise Robertson does an excellent job with the material here – she makes full use of her creative team and environment brilliantly, bringing to life the low-lit eerie backdrop and making something as harmless as an empty house feel terrifying.

Robertson skilfully keeps the film running at a brisk pace, keeping both the characters and the audience on their toes, letting the pot simmer with her band of teens before breaking out with some startling scenes of violence and gore. All the while creating somewhat of a nauseating feeling in myself, as I’m trapped in this whirlwind of horror trying to get a handle on how everything is going to play out.

The cast here are no wooden slasher film victims- each cast member portrays their character quite exceptionally and with a range of believable emotion. Yes, some of them here serve primarily as a means to show some brilliantly brutal make up work (Hey, I’m not complaining) but each of them has a distinct personality and don’t tend to blur together come the chaos.

My biggest complaint with this movie is with R. Scott Adams writing – overall, I enjoyed it, I really did. It’s got an intriguing cast of guys and gals, gruesome death scenes, great setting – a twisted, original tale with a few nastier developments along the way – all this is great, great stuff. However, having said all that, I find it is terribly, terribly predictable.

From the very beginning, I thought it was pretty obvious where things were going to head up. I wanted to be wrong – I wasn’t quite sure if my gut instinct was right but when I saw it was, I was really let down and baffled there wasn’t some sort of Red Herring to throw me off – and if there was, maybe I was too stubborn to pick up on it.

But you know what they say – it’s so much the end but the journey that’s important and over-all this journey is pretty damn twisted, gory and messed up to my liking. One tiny flaw isn’t going to derail for me what was a brisk, nasty and beautifully shot and crafted horror film – one that is highly recommended from me to you, reader.

DONNER PASS is available January 17th on DVD, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix.

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