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CAMPING TRIP (2021)
Directed by Demian Fuica, Leonardo Fuica.
Written by Leonardo Fuica.
Starring Leonardo Fuica, Caitlin Cameron, Alex Gravenstein, Hannah Forest Briand, Ben Pelletier, Jonathan Vanderzon, Michael D’Amico
A pair of couples go on a camping trip towards the end of the pandemic lockdown. But the place they have decided to pitch their tents is near an illegal exchange between a doctor with the cure for the virus and a couple of backwoods thugs in need of cash. When the drop goes sideways, the doctor is killed, but not before he hides the money in campers’ tent, directing the swarthy two thugs in the campers’ direction.
I was expecting a slasher flick from the misleading poster of CAMPING TRIP. With camping being the target recreation of most slasher victims and a poster of a man with a knife standing in front of a tent, I don’t think I was off thinking so. But instead, I got a moral tale set in a very special time about how money can corrupt absolutely. It’s fine that this film turned out to be something I didn’t expect, but I do think that there are issues with CAMPING TRIP. But first, I’ll give it a few compliments. CAMPING TRIP is very slickly produced. There are some really impressive drone shots, the scenes are smooth and crisply edited. Overall, this is a good-looking movie. The acting is solid as well. Both the hoods and the campers do their jobs well. The campers have quick banter and react comfortably with one another. There are interesting relationships developed, not cookie cutter roles. This is something you usually don’t get in a film of this sort, and I do appreciate it. I also think that the script had a few unexpected twists and turns that really are surprising—from the reason why the campers are there in the first place to the bloody climax where all hell breaks loose.
The thing is, CAMPING TRIP is utilizing old school, grindhouse elements. The plot feels like something that might have shown up in a gritty, low scale action survival flick from the mid-seventies. The bad guys are sleazy and gross and once the money gets involved; the campers even become pretty deplorable. But because the film is so cleanly and crisply produced, the look of CAMPING TRIP just doesn’t match with the tone of the story. I wish this film would have been grimier and darker. There is an assault on the campers that is mainly done off screen, but if you are going to go there to that level of deplorable action, you can’t just shy away from showing it. This film seems to want to take the cred of having horrible things happening but doesn’t actually want to show their work. Not that I want to see sexual assault, but if you put it in your movie and then pan away, why did you put it in there in the first place?
I also think that CAMPING TRIP is going to be a tough pill to swallow because it chooses to acknowledge the pandemic. Yes, it serves as a central plot point, but I can only speak for myself, but I do feel everyone is sick of being reminded of having to wear masks and all of the other things that we’ve all gone through in the last few years. I think this is a simple case of “too soon” unfortunately, since I think this film could have been made without even mentioning the modern plague.
So while there are elements of survival films like DELIVERANCE and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, CAMPING TRIP felt more like a more gratuitous version of Sam Raimi’s excellent A SIMPLE PLAN. There is a moral lesson at play, but I do feel the way this film is presented is a detriment to it. Had there been a little more grit and stank on CAMPING TRIP, I think I would have appreciated it a whole lot more.