Camping Trip – Review

Directed by Demian Fuica & Leonardo Fuica

Written by Leonardo Fuica

2020/USA/115mins

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The feeling of freedom after the initial lockdown was a peculiar one. The fear was latent, but very much still there. Our desire to see others peaked, and our initial concerns about touching, embracing, and kissing others wilted at the sight of our friends and loved ones. Shot in 2020, Camping Trip is a drama-turned crime thriller which offers audiences a touch more twists than first expected. As two couples take a chance at freedom, only to find themselves wrapped in a botched drop-off.

After the initial talks about mask-wearing, financial damages and the annoyances of people reporting on others during these lockdowns, the four friends finally pack up their things and head as far from people as they can, heading for the campsite. These partygoing lovers have been cooped up for too long, ready to let loose.

The Fuica brothers take their time, perhaps too much in some areas, not enough in others as the characterisation never really stretches beyond the initial introductions we receive with the cast. What should have been a clever thriller, instead finds itself puffing out its chest to convey a sense of self-importance, when it becomes repetitive and familiar. 

Unique dynamics of the campers encountering a murdered Doctor, who just so happens to be carrying a vaccine of sorts (no, really) conjures a possible avenue for the film as the characters struggle with both a financial incentive, and a moral one with the vaccine with the danger element is ramped up, but it’s to no real payoff.

Hannah Forest Briand and Caitlin Cameron attempt to find a stray of authenticity in the exposition-heavy script, which takes whiplash turns to push character ‘development’ and backstory. They endeavour with more fervour than their male co-stars, who seem more content with their surface-level characterisation. Save for antagonists Michael D’Amico and Jonathan Vandezon, who brings a much-needed sense of dread and scene-chewing to the role to add an element of enjoyment.

There’s a loose allegory here for the time spent waiting. You’d imagine that after countless lockdowns we’d become somewhat accustomed to stepped-back pacing. Camping Trip may prove otherwise. What’s worse is the level of self-inflicted damage the film undergoes.

Demian Fuica and Tibo L’Amy’s cinematography is without question the film’s finest asset, capturing the futility of escape, and the vast expanse of the wilderness and reinforcing the ‘silence’ aspect which came along with the emptiness of lockdown. But Fuica themselves edits these pristine and clean shots with the manic energy of a hopped-up toddler. And while allowances are made for an auteurist flair, much of the film’s heavy editing results in a shocking removal of immersion. What’s even more frustrating is that for one moment, Camping Trip elevates itself into a spectacularly inventive film – a single murderous explosion of elongated slow-motion briefly eclipses the rest of the film’s bloated grandstanding.

There’s something clever here. With earnest performances and a neat idea, what Camping Trip requires is a vicious round on the editing table. Both to fix the over-saturated cuts and pacing of the video direction, and to tighten up the script.

An Inventive Premise

Camping Trip is available on Digital Download from now.

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