Directed by Elise Robertson [Other horror films: N/A]
This is one of those slashers that I saw some years back, found almost entirely forgettable, and thus promptly forgot, and then moved on. Seeing it again and remembering only the basic scenes from it really showed just how unremarkable this film was, and that’s a feeling that I think resonates today.
It’s not Donner Pass is a necessarily terrible movie, because it has the basic staples that you’d expect from a slasher movie. Hell, there’s even a kill that’s almost worth it. The problem is that there’s not much in the way of on-screen kills, and the addition of cannibalism (à la George Donner and the infamous history of the Donner Pass) leads to some story ideas that don’t fly wit Jiggy. I’m not saying the movie doesn’t hit enough spots to be called a competent slasher, but it definitely falls flat of good.
No one shines from the cast. Erik Stocklin is easily the most sympathetic, but the route his character takes isn’t in any form surprising. Desiree Hall was decent, and I liked her character well enough, but Colley Bailey, who played her boyfriend, was rather spineless and unlikable throughout. Bailey also appeared in likewise unmemorable slasher Madison County, on a side-note.
With as unlikable as Bailey’s character was, though, of course they have to up the ante and give us Dominic DeVore’s character. To be fair, his story, especially regarding his girlfriend, played by Adelaide Kane, was sort of unique. I think it was thrown in only to give the movie ten more minutes to play with, but credit where credit is due. Speaking of credit, Kane (who played the daughter in The Purge) was great as a bitchy, unlikable piece of trash, so kudos to her for a quality performance.
It’s never easy to really get into a slasher wherein a bunch of unlikable or uninteresting characters are killed. Well, it can be easy, if the gore is top-notch, but that’s not at all the case in Donner Pass. Really, aside from pulling in ideas from history, there’s not much here to really warrant a look. It’s not an exceptionally poor movie, though. Just sorta there, and that’s admittedly damning enough.
This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss Donner Pass.