Monday, December 5, 2022

Hail Caesar (Salad Horror)


The "pretty people in peril slasher" is the Caesar salad of the horror world. Stay with me for a moment on this.

It's always available on the menu/catalog, and you're never REALLY excited to consume it. But there's a comfort in knowing it will have certain elements (parmesan cheese/an alpha male dying horribly, crunchy croutons/a complicated backstory for its villain) and every now and then, a satisfying surprise (that twist! real anchovies!). It might be disappointing, but it will rarely miss its fairly unambitious target.

Thus do we take a ride on Hell Trip. 

Quick Plot: A group of twentysomething "Americans" (with very rich non-American accents) land in Africa for vacation to instant bad news. Their tour leader Adam is several hours late and they're only a few minutes into their drive when the van breaks down, forcing them to trek 8 miles through the jungle where, well, very little actually happens. 

They eventually make it to their resort only to find it abandoned. The hosts have left a note explaining the whole staff left for a funeral, so the group takes advantage of the now open bar and convene outside for a barbecue. Finally, the slaughtering starts. 

That's pretty much Hell Trip in a nutshell. Filmed in South Africa with a camera lens that was apparently first dipped in the water dish you use to rinse off a paintbrush, it comes with a fresh setting and dour point of view. The young actors put their best attractive feet forward, but there's no one to latch onto, with half-hearted attempts at any character building quickly lost once the action (finally) kicks in.

Director Patrick Garcia (co-writing with assumed brother George Garcia) clearly enjoys working in the genre, and the way Hell Trip's final act unfolds suggests there's some more potential down the line. Horror fans of the "I'll watch anything" variety will find some enjoyment, but it's far from the smoothest safari ride.

High Points
Once the movie's switch flips to the final hunt, the actual execution (pun somewhat intended) of the violence is done quite effectively, with faster paced attacks that make much more sense than dragging out every death

Low Points
There's a lot to pick on in such a beginner project as Hell Trip, so let me focus on two crimes that occur in the opening five minutes:

1- Credit choices that rather pretentiously list out entire character names in a very difficult to read red font

2- Having a character throw up in full graphic detail multiple times. For a movie that barely hits feature length, this means something like 5% of running time is spent on vomit

Lessons Learned:
Being in the military will make you emotionless

Never confuse bad luck with not actually checking the voltage 

When a story is exciting, The New York Times is known for using exclamation points in their headlines

Always disinfect a wound before it gets infected 

Hell Trip isn't going to do much for anyone, but at least its final twenty minutes pack some excitement. If you're scraping the bottom of the Amazon Prime barrel, it's got a very minor serving of protein. 

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