Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)

Wisconsin Death Trip



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

This film adaptation of Michael Lesy's 1973 book takes a look at the sordid and disturbing underside of life in a small Wisconsin community in the 1890s. In the early 1970s, Lesy discovered a large collection of curious photographs from Black River Falls, Wisconsin, taken near the end of the 19th century, and began doing research on the town in hopes of learning the story behind them. Lesy was startled by what he learned; over the course of a decade, Black River Falls fell victim to a severe … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: James Marsh
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 24, 2004
Cinemax - Official Site



as Narrator

as Mary Sweeney

as Pauline L'Allemand

as The Newspaper Editor

as Young Anderson

as Undertaker

as Crying Woman

as Mourning Woman

as Eloping Man

as Eloping Woman

as Edgar L'Allemand

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Sheriff's Posse Memb...

as Photographer

as Editor's Assistant

as Coffin Girl

as Hanging Man

as Asylum Guard

as Asylum Guard

as Unemployed German

as Man in Snow

as Man in Snow

as Norwegian Lunatic

as Krist Wold

as Baby in Snow

as 9-Year-Old Shooter

as Abandoned Boy

as Frozen Woman

as Girl at Window

as Hearse Driver

as Baptised Girl

as Minister

as Anderson's Brother

as Holmfeldt

as Drowned Girl

as Norwegian

as Norwegian

as Norwegian

as Norwegian

as Edwin Miller

as Lena Watson

as Kissing Girl

as Pregnant Girl

as Stretcher Bearer

as Stretcher Bearer

as Religious Lunatic

as Minnie Dominitz

as Mrs. Larson

as Larson Child

as Larson Child

as Larson Child

as Barn Fire Man

as Fire Girl

as Praying Woman

as Mr. Jones

as Bank Assassin

as Bank Manager

as Colleague

as Woman in Carriage

as Drunk Shooter

as Amy Miller

as Fred Shepherd

as Jealous Husband

as Porter Ross

as Porter Ross's Victim

as Porter Ross's Victim...

as Porter Ross's Victim

as Servant Girl

as Servant Girl

as Winter Bride

as Husband

as Vomiting Woman

as Sheriff

as Aged Father

as Running Boy

as Old Lunatic
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wisconsin Death Trip

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Critic Reviews for Wisconsin Death Trip

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (10)

Marsh's film alludes to the poor economy of the former mining town but has little else to say about potential causes or motivation. Marsh just piles the events on, as if there's black humor in their sheer volume. Nope, just a big boring pile.

Full Review… | March 3, 2014
New York Daily News
Top Critic

The main problem with Wisconsin Death Trip is the way the format distances you from the subject matter, so that stories may shock, but they never move you.

Full Review… | March 3, 2014
New York Post
Top Critic

Wisconsin Death Trip chronicles, in bleakly funny vignettes, the marathon of perverse, violent, and frequently inexplicable acts of violence and insanity that gripped the seemingly cursed Wisconsin town of Black River Falls during the late 19th century.

Full Review… | March 3, 2014
AV Club
Top Critic

Chillingly beautiful cinematography makes the state's landscapes appear timeless as it sets the stage for a grim history.

Full Review… | March 3, 2014
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Those who pine for the presumed simpler life and upright morals of yesteryear's small-town Midwest have a rude, albeit wry, awakening in store with Wisconsin Death Trip.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Top Critic

What emerges is primal American Gothic: a blighted pathos which is also irrepressibly, grotesquely funny.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wisconsin Death Trip

Somewhere between documentary and a ghost story lies this eerie but absorbing portrait of life in 19th century Wisconsin. It's one of the best documentaries I've seen in a long while


This docudrama really goes for style over anything else. The story is really just told through news stories from the time. This works for a short period. Then, it tries to flash to the present day to reflect on the past, but that doesn't work either. I don't think they picked the right times to transition to those parts with the interviews.

This probably worked as the book. Diving into history through details about news stories and how it compared to the region in general and contrast it to modern life seems more palatable in text and not sound bites over reenactments. But those reenactments are visually well composed and have a mood to them.

Lee B

Unusual documentary, primarily shot in black and white. Amazing archive footage and it?s put together very well. It is such a strange and compelling story, it certainly held my interest.

James Higgins

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