Friday, February 3, 2012

donner bell.

Caught up with this lil' gem a few weeks ago after noticing that the poster art featured a cutsie redhead wielding a pick axe.

Well it works for me.

Donner Pass (2012).Dir: Elise Robertson.
Cast: Desiree Hall, Erik Stocklin, Colley Bailey, Adelaide Kane, Dominic DeVore, Brandon Morales, and John Kassir.





Way back in the snowy May of 1846, bearded bigman and father of the director of Superman The Movie George Donner led a ragtag bunch of pioneers on a shopping trip from Missouri to California to purchase some biscuits and crisps.

The group had planned to be in California by September (just in time for the annual biscuit fayre) but due to one of the horses having a puncture found themselves stuck in the Sierra Nevada mountains surrounded by snow, screaming children and wolves.

Snow similar to that which trapped the Donner party.


With only a few egg and cress sandwiches, a litre bottle of Tizer and two scotch eggs to last them, the party soon found itself without food or water and after an ill fated attempt to eat their shoes quickly resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.

To counteract the fact that many of the bodies were frozen, the party leader (the aforementioned George Donner if you weren't paying attention) fashioned a cooking device from branches and bracken that enabled the party to cook the bodies quickly and safely.

And thus the 'Donner Kebab' was created, Kebab being the native American word for frozen meat.

As you can well imagine tho' the whole situation was a wee bit tricky to explain to the rescue party that eventually found them and George's name (and that of his invention) went down in history.

"I love you....could it be magic?"


But enough history, let's jump forward to 'the present day' where the rather scrumptious Kayley (Teen Wolf's Hall, coming across like a younger, more button nosed Annette O'Toole) is driving her hunky but dim beau Mike (Madison County's Bailey), her bitchy, beaky cousin Nicole (ex- Neighbours star Kane) to a lodge very near to the Donner Pass owned by 'sensitive' new boy Thomas' (the creepily geeky Stocklin) parents in order to spend the weekend skiing.


Unfortunately tempers seem to be frayed already, with Mike's attempts to scare everyone will tales of the Donner party and flesh eating upsetting Thomas and  Nicole spending her time either texting her jock boyfriend Derek (DeVore) or bitching about just about everything else.

Yup, looks like it'll be a long weekend.

Thomas farted...and it smelled of granddad jumpers.



Stopping at a diner on the way our teen chums soon discover that a local woman has been found brutally murder and the suspect, one Brian Epstein is still on the loose.

Finally arriving at Thomas’ cabin (in reality a huge house nestling snugly  in the woods) everyone seems to be getting along fine, chatting and drinking with even Nicole managing to crack a smile.

The jolly atmosphere is short lived tho' as suddenly dodgy Derek (Dominic DeVore) turns up with his badly behaved buddies; the intense A.J., vivacious Valerie and Brody (not the one from Jaws) in tow.

Thomas, understandably is not a happy bunny whilst Kayley, her attempts to find a compromise ignored stomps off to bed.

With Thomas wandering about mumbling to himself and the rest of the gang (Mike included) enjoying a beer of ten on the balcony no-one notices what looks like the shadowy figure of a man watching from the depths of the forest.

Prepare yourselves for a winter slay ride.

Ouch, sorry about that.

"Excuse me, do you require any scissors sharpening?"

After the rot I've sat thru' recently and expecting nothing except a cheerfully cheap (with the emphasis on the cheap bit) crap hack n' slash movie I was pleasantly surprised by Donner Pass; the direction (from first time feature director Elise Robertson) is top notch and assured, the cast are perfect and  Bobby Scott's cinematography perfectly encapsulates the conflicting feelings of loneliness and isolation playing out against the seemingly endless snowy backwoods.

Arse, this is beginning to sound like a proper film blog, better change that then...
"Shite in mah mooth!"
Ah, that's better.

The plot, whilst nothing unique is well handled, played straight and with a twist ending that whilst not unexpected isn't unwelcome, as are the sly nods to Halloween and it's this seriousness coupled with some genuinely well choreographed murders that raises Donner Pass above the norm.

More please Ms. Robertson.

Is it me or am I getting way too polite in my old age?

Well I've got The Sleeper to watch next and by all accounts that might change straight away.

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