CAMPING TRIP poster | ©2022 Fuica Film Pictures/8Cube

CAMPING TRIP poster | ©2022 Fuica Film Pictures/8Cube

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Leo Zola, Caitlin Cameron, Alex Gravenstein, Hannah Forest Briand, Jonathan Vanderzon, Ben Pelletier, Michael D’Amico
Writer: Leonardo Fuica
Directors: The Fuica Brothers (Demian Fuica & Leonardo Fuica)
Distributor: Fuica Film Pictures / 8Cube
Release Date: August 16, 2022

CAMPING TRIP may best be viewed as a time capsule. Set at the end of the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 (a title card helpfully tells us this at the start), it gives us characters who are wondering about everything from when to mask up to whether their lives will ever go back to “normal,” and what “normal” was in the first place.

We have a bit of hindsight on all this now, but there’s still potential comedy and drama and emotion in all this. However, in CAMPING TRIP, nobody’s thoughts on normality are especially unique. More to the point, CAMPING TRIP turns out to use COVID-19 as a red herring. The movie is actually a thriller.

We start with the reunion of two couples. Enzo (Leo Zola, the screen name of CAMPING TRIP’s writer/co-director Leonardo Fuica) and Polly (Caitlin Cameron) live together in a handsome two-story house in a modestly upscale community. Their friends Ace (Alex Gravenstein) and Coco (Hannah Forest Briand) join them for a camping trip.

We soon learn that Ace and Coco have both been laid off due to the pandemic. Ace is having money troubles. Enzo may not be doing as well as Ace thinks. When Ace asks to borrow two thousand dollars, Enzo can only loan him one thousand, and begs Ace not to mention it to Polly.

Out in the woods, we see that all four of these people are even more intimate friends than we supposed. In one sense, it’s heartening to see that co-directors The Fuica Brothera (Demian Fuica & Leonardo Fuica), as well as their characters, are perfectly comfortable with both male and female bisexuality.

On the other hand, this gets absolutely no plot traction. Apart from the orgy sequence, everybody returns to their primary relationship status, with no suggestion of divided loyalties thereafter. By the end of the film, we can’t tell if this was meant as character development or just titillation.

In any event, a fellow called Doc (Ben Pelletier) parks by the side of the road and treks through the forest, carrying a duffel bag. He finds the campsite while our campers have taken their canoe to a beach. Doc steals a bunch of clothing out of one of the campers’ bags, replaces it with the enormous quantity of cash that he’s been carrying, then continues on his way.

We never do find out how Doc was planning to get his money back. He shortly thereafter meets up with Orick (Michael D’Amico) and Billy (Jonathan Vanderzon), who have something Doc wants in exchange for the money they’re expecting. By the end of this meeting, we realize that none of these three criminals is very bright.

Our campers hear gunshots, find Doc’s body, then discover the bag full of money in Enzo’s tent.

Normally, spoiler protocols would have prevented this reviewer from saying so much already, but in this instance, a warning is required.

The reaction of the four protagonists to all of this makes us think of characters in a whole other genre of camping-trip-gone-bad movies, where we are encouraged to root against them.

Their logic might make sense of they were twelve-year-old (or younger) children, but they are adults. It does not help us sympathize with them when the situation devolves to where we know it’s headed, even if the characters don’t see it coming.

There’s also some potential in having each of the characters be from a different culture: Enzo is Chilean, Polly is British, Coco is Quebecois, and Ace is either American or from English-speaking Canada. However, nothing is made of this.

CAMPING TRIP is handsomely filmed (except for a peculiar lighting effect in a campfire scene). There are eventually a few impressive splatter effects for diehard gore-hound viewers.

The plot in CAMPING TRIP does track from start to finish. It’s one of those indie movies that can be sincerely saluted for being as well-made as it is, and for finding a distributor. It’s hard to take it seriously. It is, however, a relic of a brief period where everybody was guessing what might come next – which turns out not to have much bearing on what they’re doing at the time.

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