MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
“Donner Pass” offers a different take on the standard horror flick. Aside from a brief introduction which shows a member of the Donner Party and his unfortunate end, the film begins as a basic modern movie about a group of college kids stuck in the scary woods. We’ve seen this sort of thing quite a bit recently with higher profile movies like “Shark Night,” “Creature” and “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.” This is the new standard to send-up.
In “Donner Pass,” kids show up at a cabin and get snowed in. There’s the nicer characters, the nerd that originally invited people, the pretty girl he likes and the party crashers who make things unpleasant. Predictably, a mysterious killer shows up and starts to make things bloody.
Most of this film is pretty rote and standard. The first half drags a bit because it does present the same thing we’ve seen many times before. Fortunately, things switch up a bit at the end, which is nice to see. It’s not the most unique twist on the stand-by that you’ll ever see, but it makes it worth finishing the film.
There’s also a nice hot tub scene which features a naked girl in it. This may be a chauvinistic comment to make, but this is essential to a college horror movie, in my opinion. It’s as essential as some blood and gore, which this film also has covered.
Not explosively unique, but also not a complete waste of time, “Donner Pass” works at least part of the time.
The DVD comes with three featurettes, including “The Making of Donner Pass,” “On Set with Horror Icon John Kassir” and “The Makeup & FX Secrets of Donner Pass.” These are decent, revealing special features and add a bit of value to the somewhat rote horror DVD.