If you’re a horror fan then you’ve probably already heard about the macabre story of Donner Pass in which George Donner and his party found themselves stuck and stranded in the winter of 1846 and were forced into cannibalism to survive and keep from starving. The film Donner Pass (2012) takes these events as fact and transports them to modern day times.
A group of twenty-something decide to take a vacation at a friend’s cabin in the middle of nowhere. After hearing about a recent murder in the nearby neighborhood they learn that there may be more to the Donner Pass story when they each begin to get killed one by one by a vagrant that may be the descendent of one of the original Donner Party members or even George Donner himself.
For the most part this is a by the books hack & slash affair that tries to give a supernatural reason for the whole Donner Party incident. This supernatural angle probably could have worked if introduced earlier in the story but it comes in the third act and just seems tacked on to give the story something different from the standard hack & slash affair but it’s far too late. You have to get through the first two-thirds of the film in order to get to anything originality in the story.
Director Elise Robertson lacks any particular style with the material but she is given very little to work with. The hack & slash horror film has been done to death (pun intended) and it is rare when something new is truly attempted which is why these films are so inept. This being said, the film is not entirely without its entertainment value especially towards the end when the film finally starts to move forward and becomes more interesting. It’s just not one of those films that leave you with a memorable impression.