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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Jeff Reviews DESOLATION (2017)

A mother takes her son and her best friend on a trip into the remote wilderness to scatter his father's ashes; they must confront their fears when a lone hiker begins following them.

Directed and produced by Sam Patton while written by Matt Anderson and Michael Larson-Kangas, DESOLATION stars Claude Duhamel (Valentine), Alyshia Ochise (True Detective), Jaimi Paige, and Toby Nichols.

Following her husband’s death, grieving widow Abby (Jaimi Paige), along with her son (Toby Nichols) and best friend Jen (Alyshia Ochse), journeys into the forest he loved. The opening and subsequent exposition is perfectly framed around polaroids and the finding of the Geo-box tell us everythhing we need to know about the friends and the man they've come to honor. As the friends wander the wilderness and reminisce we try to connect with them, so that we can feel for them later when the crap goes crazy. Later that night, they’re struck by a rising feeling of paranoia, like we all do when wandering around in the woods in the dark. Luckily they brough pepperspray for bears. In their case there really is silent stranger in sunglasses stalking their every move. The Hiker (Claude Duhamel), who is intent on being every campers nightmare, starts popping from behind trees. The trio then find themselves the hunted prey in a deranged killer’s game.

DESOLATION feels like a very slow burn for being only 78 minutes long. Granted, we really get to learn a lot about Abby's greiving over her lost husband, and her sons teenage problems compounding by the loss of his father. We also learn that best friend Jen is going to have a child, and ultimately not really sure why these things are important to use half the overall length of the film except to try and make us care even more when hiker dude does his thing. For the most part theres too much explaining and teenage angst, not enough stalking and threatening to build up the tension required in the first half of the film. DESOLATION is also a very clean movie. With the exception of some blood there's not much murdering gore. Same goes for the violence or lack thereof. In fact it would be a great Lifetime late night film. Not a horrible movie, but not quiet up to par with the stalker in the woods films we love so much.

So if you need a film that will teach you the dangers of hiking of off trail, and don't have the stomach for gore and violence, DESOLATION is currently available from IFC Midight