20 Horror Movies for $7.50 — Part XIX.
I’m in the weird position of kind of hoping this one sucks. There have been so many at-least decent movies in this collection, and a recent run of pretty good ones that my bigotry against these cheapo sets is being seriously challenged. I am at risk of becoming cinematically-correct. #allmoviesmatter.
We start off with two couples loading the car for a trip to the Catskills. They are not instantly hatable, so the movie is already above average. Well, one is a smoker, so he’s on thin ice. Even the credits make me think this will be good — the film is a lean 74 minutes. They get creative with the very first credits, but quickly switch to standard static credits long before tedium sets in — I’m looking at you, 1978 Superman! 
At the Catskills, they start out, fully loaded with the essentials — backpacks, snowshoes, tents, pot-brownies — for a 27 mile hike. Sadly there was not enough room for a .5 ounce map. Within an hour one of the couples has a fight and the girl bails, heading back to the car to stay at a hotel.
Refreshingly, these are normal people, even the one girl who bails. They complain — but calmly and reasonably — about the exertion required, they make jokes that are normal-people funny (not Hollywood-polished or Hollywood-awful). They are so happy to get have a meal of their freeze-dried prepper food that they actually compliment it. They are I guess, in a word, relatable — an archaic concept mostly discarded by filmmakers.
The first night is fairly fright-free although there are strange lights and noises outside the tent. But nothing is found, so they set out the next morning on the second 10-mile leg of the hike. They even find time for some fun sledding on little sheets of plastic. Mysteriously, during their frolicking, the tent poles disappear so they have to back track to hell-camp. Well, it wasn’t exactly like going back to the house in Poltergeist, but there were those lights and noises.
They don’t find the poles at the campsite, so they split up to look for some branches to make an $800 lycra tepee just like the Indians. When they return with some sticks, the poles are all lined up neatly at the site. Pat says it is probably just some harmless hunters playing a prank on the city folk, having never seen Southern Comfort or Wrong Turn or, really, a movie. The night is again relatively uneventful except for a nightmare from Laura. The next day they stay put again as Nate burns his hand and that somehow prevents him from walking.
That night, however, things start to awry. Pat is awakened by some red lights and goes outside to check them out. Nate and Laura wake up the next morning covered in snow because Pat forgot to close the tent flap. And, oh yeah, he is comatose, covered by snow in the tent, nearly frozen to death.
They wrap Patrick up and start dragging him back to the trail head. A map might have been handy at this point. Or a phone. Or a GPS. After Laura discovers a disgusting growth under Patrick’s cap, she and Nate begin arguing about whether to leave him. They are overjoyed to see a campsite in the distance. Until they recognize it as the same one they left that morning.
So once again, they settle in at the same site for the night. Which is cool until Laura goes out to pee and encounters a second Patrick. Nate goes out to find her, leaving Patrick #1 in the tent. She does not answer his calls, but he catches her standing naked in the woods, which is just a good.
I can see how some people would be critical of the ending, but I thought it suited the movie. The entire film was an exercise in subtly — no jump scares, no monsters, not even over-use of the threat of nature or inevitable human conflict. So an explosive ending just would have been a money-shot — I mean a literal shot money (i.e. not in the budget). Also not in keeping with the rest of the film.
Certainly not comedic like the last few films, but not full of dread and suspense either. To repeat myself, it just felt relatable. They were real people with real problems doing the best they could. It pains me to say it, but this is another good one.
-  Well, they were cool at the time. And it is still the best Superman movie.
- I have never seen any of this cast of four in another movie. Which is fine.