Donner Pass Reviews

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½ August 4, 2013
I'm still waiting for a good Donner family horror film. Sadly, Donner Pass is not it...a stupid and cliched slasher film that completely squanders the potential of its premise.
July 10, 2012
it was good for a while, but than it kept getting worse and worse... the ending was pretty pathetic and the storyline kept getting stupider.
Not worth watching at all unless your a really big fan of horror movies.
½ January 6, 2015
The first 20 minutes of the movie serves no other purpose than to introduce characters and show you who you should like and dislike. They achieve this with absurd and unrealistic caricatures of high school jocks that are no more believable than the poorly explained ending. A halfway decent concept was ruined in this film by a plot that makes no sense. Although acting, directing and the script were all satisfactory, that was hardly enough to compensate for the faulty plot.
August 3, 2014
Donner Pass is a solid slasher film. It has some good gore and one nude scene.
½ July 5, 2014
You have to keep expectations low when you pop in a teen slasher flick, but my oh my was this horrible. The movie is set up sort of like Scream, where you know one of the characters is going to turn out to be the villain, and it could not have been more obvious. Like, seriously, it is blatantly obvious after the very first scene. The thought that the filmmakers could have even entertained the idea that they were keeping us on edge is offensive. Furthermore, the character development was atrocious. Not only were there far too many characters (8 teenagers in one cabin), but every single character was completely void of any depth. Many characters would inexplicably be absent for several scenes in a row. I'm not sure if this was a missed attempt to bring suspicion among those characters, or if the writer simply "forgot" about a few of his completely one dimensional characters for a little while as he was writing the script in a crowded bar. The teen slasher genre is very simple, but so many fail to make the mark. If you were considering this film, I'd suggest you take the title seriously and "pass."
June 24, 2014
The infamous legend of the Donner Party has been the inspiration for a slew of films both directly and indirectly, and the new low budget feature "Donner Pass" takes a contemporary spin on the tale. After a ridiculous and completely unecessary opening sequence set in the 1800's that sets up the backstory, the movie shifts to modern times with the usual group of horny young teenagers being menaced in the woods.

The film is extremely derivative, but it's more "Evil Dead" than "Friday the 13th" with the characters becoming possessed by the spirit of Donner, but that's pretty much saved for the last fifteen minutes. Much of the run time simply builds up to that moment, but oddly enough, it's not as dull as we've come to expect from movies like this. Thanks to some better-than-average directing from Elise Robertson and some shockingly high production values, it held my interest fairly well.

The whole thing, even the finale, seems oddly subdued but I was never really bored by it. There are twists along the way, including an especially unconvincing one at the end, but they only prove to be a whole bunch of red herrings. They succeeded in keeping me distracted. There's even a fairly awful folk song by a singer named Orenda Fink that open and close the film that I enjoyed simply because it fits in with the film so well. It reminded me of the tune from the original "My Bloody Valentine".

I simply cannot in good faith recommend "Donner Pass", but I enjoyed it a lot more that I ever would have believed. It's a most unusual picture.
April 22, 2014
I know horror is a very subjective genre. Some prefer slow burns, some gore, some suspense, some paranormal or monsters or slashers. But I'm honestly confused as to the positive reviews of this film. It felt like a freshman year film project. The acting is bland, characters are perfect stereotypes of every cabin-in-the-woods-type film you've ever seen, suspense is totally nonexistent, setting is without even a hint of atmosphere, plot holes larger than my fist. I cannot really figure out what people liked. Even for the b-grade mindless teen slasher genre, this is still painfully subpar. I assume the professor failed the student filmmaker. Unless this isn't a student film, in which case...yikes...
March 2, 2014
There is nothing new here, just wooden performances.
½ February 28, 2014
Donner Pass (Elise Robertson, 2012)

I've seen any number of reviews of Donner Pass that all seem to center around the same idea: good story hamstrung by bad acting. I'm not convinced this is the case on both counts; at least two of the actors here turned in performances that I quite liked (even if I found one of the characters portrayed an intolerable ass), while there were a number of aspects of the story I found infuriating. That said, the main mystery here is a pretty nice twist on the wild-mountain-man theme, and if you're looking just at that aspect of it and squinting right, okay, I can see where those reviewers are coming from. One way or the other, though, we're all ending up in the same place.

Plot: Thomas (Grey Sheep's Erik Stocklin) is the new kid at an exclusive private boarding school. In an attempt to make friends, he invites some of his classmates for a weekend of skiing at his parents' cabin in the infamous Donner Pass-Mike (Madison County's Colley Bailey, who should refuse to take any more parts in movies with geographical names), Mike's girlfriend Kayley (Best Night Ever's Desiree Hall), and Kayley's friend Nicole (The Purge's Adelaide Kane), an ice queen who hates pretty much everyone except her boyfriend Derek, but who, Mike assures Thomas, is a good person to know if you want to be part of the inner circle at their school. All seems to be going well, at least where skiing is concerned-as they get to the place, a blizzard is on its way in-but eventually, Nicole's boyfriend Derek (The Echo Game's Dominic DeVore) shows up with a couple of similarly drunk lunkheads in tow in the form of A. J. (TV character actor Brandon Morales), A. J.'s girlfriend Valerie (Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!' Krystal Davis), and Brody (This Tunnel South's Antontio Trischitta). Of course, rumors circle that Donner, the head of the party who were forced into cannibalism during a similar blizzard, is still alive and hunting. The group pass it off as an urban legend...until things start happening that lead them to believe that there may, in fact, be someone out there who's interesting in having them for dinner.

While eventually, a lot of the seemingly odd pieces of the movie are explained (for example, Thomas being a doormat far beyond the line where anyone else would have snapped), that doesn't excuse them stretching the boundaries of disbelief a great deal farther than the good portion of the plotline warrants. Topping that is that for the most part, the script, based on a story by first-timer R. Scott Adams, gives us a whole lot of characters so hateful you'll be rooting for them to die, one by one. The only sympathetic character, aside from Thomas (and you pity him more than sympathize with him), is Kayley (who is really kind of doing the same); Hall's performance works here. The other solid one is from Colley Bailey, despite that his character is exactly the kind of guy you want to expend your first punch on. Three characters, however, do not a movie make. I wanted to like this a great deal more than I did. * 1/2
January 30, 2014
Indie vanity film for Elise Robertson. Oi, the ending telegraphs sequel; let us hope not.
One line summary: Gore, slasher, soft R, teen elimination derby with zero likeable characters.

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We start with a re-imagining of the Donner party's problems in the mountains in 1846. The story is re-told in a bit of a different light.

In the present, Thomas and four friends head toward his parents' cabin in the woods, which is coincidentally near Donner Pass. Three more people the group knows show up and bully their way in, indirectly making Thomas break his promise about occupancy.

The final roster ends up being Thomas, Kayley, Mike, Nicole, Brody, Valerie, Derek, and A. J. During the first night's stay, there is an extra three inches of snow.

Brody goes for beer, and does not come back. Thomas, Mike, and Kayley go look for him. Kayley thinks she sees him before they start out, but is not sure. They find Brody's car, somewhat broken up, with plenty of blood splatter inside the car, and some outside. Soon enough they find Brody with his guts ripped out. Could this possibly become a pattern?

Meanwhile, Derek and Nicole discuss Nicole's date rape by A. J. I did not see how that was going to go forward without a confession (highly unlikely) or admissible video evidence. Derek and Nicole turn out to be rather cold blooded themselves, but are not the root of the problems.

Does anyone survive this elimination derby?

------Scores------

Cinematography: 7/10 Too dark much of the time.

Sound: 7/10 Mostly OK, but was not the asset it might have been.

Acting: 0/10 Terrible, stem to stern. More or less bad high school play level. Several of the actors look close to thirty, but act like bad tempered, entitled delinquents.

Screenplay: 2/10 Standard teen elimination derby, with a weak link to the Donner party historical events. Neither interesting nor compelling. Even the gratuitous nudity had me wondering how it fit into the story. Of course, it did not.
½ November 18, 2013
Not amazing, but interesting. Well thought out for the most part. Though rather simple.
½ August 16, 2013
The story premise isn't enough of a novelty to overcome a predictable and banal, cliched, teen horror.
February 1, 2013
History is about to revisit itself on an unfortunate group of teens who make the mistake of partying out in Donner Pass, where the legend of George Donner is not only alive, but hungry! After a gory opening, DONNER PASS introduces us to a an obnoxious group of utterly predictable teen stereotypes, and it is downhill from there. Having learned nothing from SCREAM, these mindless characters break every rule in the Horror handbook and beg for some unstoppable force of nature to put them out of their own misery. Help arrives in the form of history's most notorious cannibal, and once the deaths begin, they are fast, furious, and full of blood. At least the film makers had the sense to play this as a simple, honest Slasher with no pretentious hangups, because neither the film nor the characters contain any depth to them whatsoever. The expected "twist ending" is broadcast from the very first moments that we spend with the teens thanks to a few obvious clues. To its credit, however, the young cast members take on their roles respectfully, and the film is both cleanly shot and nicely edited. The Slasher crowd might find some bloody entertainment here, but otherwise it is safest to heed the film's warning and PASS.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
½ October 26, 2012
A couple cool kills and a hop-along first half won't do much for this slasher. Watch Ravenous instead.
July 17, 2012
A fresh, mildly gory take on isolated teenage cannibalism, with an ending even Sarah Palin can see from farther away than Russia. An idyllic and snowy weekend at a secluded cabin goes awry when a bevy of uninvited friends who, since eaten raw, undoubtedly taste nothing like chicken, drop by to altruistically boost the body count with the help of their own bodies. It's a tense buffet of fun, well-controlled and a bit harrowing here and there, with a small group of unlikeable human fodder raising the viewer's sympathy toward the central characters. Doesn't break much new ground, but the "Donner Party Curse" is a nice touch.
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