The Covid pandemic has been a big disruption to our lives for the past two years. It brought the world as we know it to a standstill for months, changed the way we operate, and has highlighted how people will ignore major dangers in a effort to ‘go back to normal’ by acting like Covid is a thing of the past even whilst still around. It’s something that has left a lasting mark on our times, and as such there will be storytellers that use this time. The latest film to use the Covid pandemic as its backdrop is Camping Trip.
Directed by the Fucia brothers, Demian and Leonardo (Leonardo also wrote the movie and starred in it), Camping Trip introduces us to two couples trying their best to make it through the pandemic, who decide to get away from the stress of everything once the first lockdown comes to an end. Enzo (Leonardo Fucia) and his girlfriend Polly (Caitlin Cameron) meet their friends Ace (Alex Gravestein) and Coco (Hannah Forest Briand) with socially distanced greetings as their nosey neighbours watch on from the windows, and try to figure out how to navigate their desire to be close with Covid safety.
READ MORE: Man Without a Star (1955) – Blu-ray Review
We get a bit of an insight into the two groups in this early scene, learning how times have been tough on each, and how they’ve been struggling through the pandemic financially. We also learn that despite his outward appearance at being careful and following safety guidelines, Enzo got fined for having a party during the pandemic; something that hints at the character’s future capacity to make absolutely ridiculous mistakes that put everyone at risk. With the stage set and the characters introduced we head out into the woods with them as they find a remote location by a lake so that they can relax, get away from the stresses of reality, and have a big orgy.
Unbeknown to them, however, there are other people in the forest. A scientist of some sort (it’s never made clear), is making a shady deal with a couple of criminals out in the remote wilds. However, deciding that he doesn’t want to give the two criminals the $1 million he’s agreed, he stashes the cash in the friends camp whilst they’re away. When the criminals realise they’ve been double crossed they kill the scientist and set out looking for the money – a path that leads them straight to the four friends.
The plot of Camping Trip isn’t entirely terrible; unfortunately, the execution of it is. Despite spending time getting to know the four main characters there’s never a sense that you know anything about any of them. There are no real personality traits or distinctive things that set any of them apart from the others. Other than Enzo, who seems to flip flop between being selfish and wanting to do the right thing, none of them particularly stand out. Any of them could be speaking anyone else’s lines and it wouldn’t feel out of place. They seem less well thought out characters, and more just pieces on the board, being moved around scene to scene doing whatever the script needs them to do.
The group is also quite unlikable, and I never once felt like I was supposed to be rooting for any of them, or hoping that they get through things. They make some pretty awful mistakes in this movie, and I don’t just mean your average horror film mistake of heading into a clearly haunted house. They find a freshly murdered man near their camp, a supposed cure for Covid worth millions, and a million in cash, an instead of getting the hell out of there they start blasting music, singing and dancing to celebrate their good fortune. I don’t think they could have drawn the killers attention any quicker if they’d have sent up a flare. And sadly, this is far from the only thing that they did that left me shaking my head.
For example, the directing choices. There’s a scene that should have lasted about a minute, but thanks to everything going into slow motion it seemed to go on for at least five. Everything was dragged out and slowed down, and rather than making things feel tense, or dangerous, or horrific, as I assume the intention was, it made the scene boring. Everything overstayed its welcome, and a number of shots ended up looking undersold, as you could see plainly that some of the actors were pulling punches and not really landing any blows.
READ MORE: Dark Horse Comics – New Horror Releases!
Another scene, the big moment where the story all comes to a head, felt ruined by the baffling choice to have the camera slowly spinning around, rather than focusing on the characters. Instead of watching the people we’ve been following for this whole story reach their dramatic conclusion, the camera spins round and round, showing trees, the lake in the distance, more trees, then a brief glimpse of the characters, before moving on again. It threw me out of the scene entirely, and left me wondering what was happening, why I should care, and what the entire point was. I was left not caring about any of the characters or their story at the dramatic conclusion; so what was the point of it all? It was a directing choice that ruined the conclusion of the film for me.
Camping Trip tries to tell a compelling and interesting story, but thanks to a script that drags, characters that never grab you, and some directing choices that ruin some key scenes, I was left bored throughout, and glad when it came to an end.
Camping Trip is out on Digital Download from 16th August.