Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 81 minutes
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Jim (Tim Barraco), his girlfriend Andrea (Kandis Erickson), and their friends head out into the woods for a weekend of camping and other fun. Their plans are interrupted, however, when they come across some dead bodies and find themselves in the clutches of a couple of sadistic murderers, an ex-Marine (Trevor Torseth) and his girlfriend Baby (Maggie VandenBerghe). As the group tries to survive, two FBI agents (Robert Picardo and Ray Campbell) are also working their way through the woods, trying to catch the killers.
Joseph and Justin Guerrieri’s Trail of Blood is another film that has me convinced that, if you’re a group of teenagers or college students, you should do your partying anywhere but on a wilderness trip. As soon as you see the group hiking into the woods, your mind starts predicting who will or won’t make it out alive. And in many instances, you’ll be correct, but this film packs one hell of an ending that is less predictable.
Which is great, because otherwise the film is a solid thriller, but nothing terribly unexpected happens. Once the killers start in on tormenting their prey, it’s a dwindling cast of characters in sufficiently bloody fashion (though by no means torture porn). Not a bad film by any stretch; quite the contrary, the film is adept at delivering the familiar in a way that feels fresh enough.
But it all comes together with the climax, which delivers in wonderful ways. When looking back, you see how the film skillfully set it all up, the clues are all there, but it still hits with shock and surprise. I’m not talking about some M. Night Shyamalan-friendly twist, mind you; it’s not all a dream or in anyone’s head or LOOK, ALIENS! It’s like walking down a road you know really well, only to get to the end and go, “waitaminute… how did I get here?”
Of course, for all it gets right, it’s not perfect, and some of that has to do with the aforementioned familiarity. For example, we’ve got a main antagonist who is a war veteran, so of course we’re going to have to include a scene of Russian roulette. Not unexpected, but also not suspenseful. Also, for as much shouting and gunshots are in this film, it’s amazing it takes the agents as long as it does to track the killers; at one point it doesn’t seem like everyone is all that far away from each other, but they’re supposedly completely out of earshot (which is hard to believe).
All that said, though, the film looks and sounds quite good. The acting is actually really solid for a film like this; the characters that you know are there strictly for body count aren’t annoying or over-the-top, and the film spends the right amount of time with everyone so as to not linger too long for no good reason. Thus the film keeps a steady pace, without dragging, and stays exciting.
As far as wilderness thrillers with psycho killers go, Trail of Blood does a good job of it. Entertaining despite its more obvious moments, and a quality production all around. Its ending makes it memorable, but it’s still impressive and fun regardless.
This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.
Posted on December 28, 2013 in Reviews by Mark Bell
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