The Movie Waffler New Release Review [VOD] - CAMPING TRIP | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [VOD] - CAMPING TRIP

camping trip review
A pandemic era trip to the woods takes a deadly turn for two couples.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Leonardo Fuica, Demian Fuica

Starring: Leonardo Fuica, Caitlin Cameron, Alex Gravenstein, Hannah Forest-Briant, Jonathan Vanderzon, Ben Pellertier, Michael D'Damico

camping trip poster

Set, as the title-card tells us, after the first lockdown, this topical film fully embraces its place in the new Covid world.

Sombre music sets a serious tone while a series of images give a sense of our new reality. The signage, the death tolls, the rubbish bins overflowing with masks, the empty streets - all now wryly familiar to most of us, if not all.

Our two couples - Coco and Ace (Alex Gravenstein and Hannah Forest-Briant), and Enzo and Polly (Leonardo Fuica and Caitlin Cameron) - meet up to set off for a camping trip, but first they chat about their lives and the impact of Covid as the neighbours look on. Issues for the audience arise almost immediately with the unnatural way they interact and the almost pantomime style of Fuica's acting.

camping trip review

Arriving at a scenic riverside location, they set up tents and finally indulge in a long-time-coming hug (the lack of human contact in Covid times is something which I think most of us lament).

Though I never managed to buy these characters, I did buy their friendship, because the rapport between them is the most believable thing here.

The camping trip takes an odd turn when after waxing philosophically about the changes Covid will bring and whether we’re ready for it, Enzo makes a play for Ace and we are treated to a tastefully-cutaway-from bisexual orgy by the campfire. Yep, I’m as surprised as you.

The next day nefarious types arrive and are apparently ready to do an illegal deal of some sort with each other. You know they’re bad because they wear leather vests and swear a lot!

After the deal goes wrong and a doctor, who, in an effort to save his own life declares that he’s “the best doctor!” and “might make a vaccine to save the world” lies dead, our campers return to find his body.

They take the plans for a Covid vaccine from the corpse and decide to also keep the bag of cash they find secreted in their tent.

Apparently Enzo has ‘contacts’ who can make the vaccine, “save the world” and make them rich, and they’re all in debt anyway so why not?!

They celebrate by playing loud music and lamely dancing by the river before they are discovered by the killers and a wet squib of a thriller ensues.

camping trip review

Between dialogue that is over-explanatory, bookish and frankly laughable, a cast of characters no one could like, and padded out by endless shots of the lake, this protracted film directed by Demian and Leonardo Fuica and written by Leonardo Fuica, just never works.

The two female characters are okay, though they spend a lot of time leaning into the ‘girlfriend tropes’ of whining, not helping, weakly ‘fighting’ the antagonists, goading their boyfriends etc. Ace is by turns life of the party or anti-police, an empty-headed jock or a scheming backstabber - he’s wildly inconsistent in service of the script; and Enzo is completely insufferable, a character whose death you look forward to. This doesn’t help build any tension, which is totally lacking for the most part anyway. The villains are fine with the standout being Jonathan Vanderzon as Billy, who manages to be believable and well-cast.

camping trip review

The direction is unnaturally flashy at times. Do we really need multiple shots of someone walking down a pier? Or pacing a pier? The camera angles never seem to be chosen to enhance the scene, but rather to show off. There is one long unbroken shot near the end where the camera turns circles showing more and more of a developing confrontation, which would have been impressive had it not all felt so utterly unbelievable. Interestingly though, slow motion is used most effectively the few times it is employed - I must give credit for that. The most effective and memorable scene in this movie happens almost entirely in slow motion, but once it’s over we are back to the same terrible dialogue and improbable concerns. The production values are exceptional, particularly cinematography, lighting and sound, especially for an indie; it’s just a shame that it falters so irrevocably in the script and some of the performances.

Though a unique take on the pandemic blues, this movie is overwrought, overindulgent and takes itself far too seriously for its own good.

Camping Trip is on UK/ROI VOD from August 16th.

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