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  • Writer's pictureAngela H.

Desolation (2017) | Film Review | Discussion, Recommendations & Spoilers-Horror

Desolation (2017) is an American horror-thriller film directed by Sam Patton and written by Matt Anderson and Michael Larson-Kangas. The film stars Toby Nichols, Jaimi Paige and Alyshia Ochse. Desolation (2017) was distributed by IFC Midnight and released on December 15, 2017.

The film follows a woman named Abby, who is hiking in the woods with her son, Sam, and her best friend, Jen. Abby recently lost her husband to cancer and decided to scatter her husband's ashes at the top of a mountain, which was one of his favorite places to go.

While hiking through the woods and following a trail up the mountain, Abby, Sam, and Jen encounter a strange man who seems to be following them up the trail. They stop several times to let him pass, but become increasingly worried when he will not pass them. They try talking to the man, but he does not answer them and the group moves on to try to create some distance between them.

The rest of the film follows the group as they try to discover what the man wants and why he seems to be following them.

If You Like This Film, You May Also Like:

Friday the 13th (1980)

Wrong Turn (2003)

Wolf Creek (2005)

The Strangers (2008)

In Fear (2013)

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The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018)


*Discussion contains spoilers

After hiking up the mountain and discovering that the man has been following the group for some time, Abby and Jen decide to hide from the man to let him pass. They walk quickly down the trail and hide behind a large tree stump covered in brush. Although they believe they have successfully hidden from the man behind a large tree stump, the man smiles before he leaves, indicating to the viewers that he has seen the group and has nefarious intentions.

That night, the group doesn't light a fire because they are worried about the man spotting them easily in the woods. They go to sleep and when it is almost sunrise, Abby wakes up when she hears music playing in the woods. She leaves the tent quietly so as to not wake Sam and goes to Jen's tent, which she finds empty.

Worried, she calls quietly to Jen at first, then calls for Jen increasingly louder as she starts to panic. Sam wakes up and asks Abby where Jen went, to which Abby tells him she doesn't know.

As Abby and Sam look for Jen, the stranger is shown at his own makeshift camp and we see Jen in the background with her arms tied up to trees with her head hanging down, indicating she is either unconscious or dead. The camera pans to a small log where the stranger has small bottles of blood and clear liquids.

As Abby calls for Jen, the stranger turns up the volume of the odd music and walks toward Jen with a knife, indicating he means her further harm.

Abby realizes that something terrible has happened to Jen and she tells Sam that they have to head somewhere to get help. She tells Sam to gather their food so they can eat and head out, but Sam discovers the stranger has taken their food. Abby decides that they will head towards a nearby campground in hopes that they will encounter some people there who can help. She tells Sam that even if they got separated or if something happened to her, he was to head to the campground no matter what.

Abby and Sam head towards the campground at a good pace, but are halted by a rainstorm. They decide to sleep near a large fallen tree until they can start going again in the morning. Sam argues that he and Abby should sleep in shifts in case the stranger discovers them, with Sam taking the first shift. Sam stays up for a while, but soon falls asleep. As he is sleeping, the stranger discovers them and drugs a sleeping Abby with a rag (probably soaked with chloroform) before dragging her away.

Sam soon awakes and finds his mother missing. He hears the same odd music playing in the woods and sets off to find Abby.

Meanwhile, in the stranger's makeshift camp, he has tied Abby up the same way we saw Jen tied up before. He walks over to Abby, who is unconscious, and takes out some pliers and pulls out one of her teeth. She is so drugged at that point she doesn't wake up when her tooth is pulled out. He begins to cut her shirt and is interrupted by Sam, who has found the camp. The camera pans back and we see Jen still hung up behind Abby, but she has been disemboweled.

The stranger sets off to find Sam, who has distracted the stranger. Sam finds his way back to the stranger's camp before the stranger and cuts down Abby with a pocketknife that used to belong to his father. Sam tries to wake his mother, but has to run away before the stranger kills him.

As the stranger follows Sam, Abby wakes up and stumbles away from the camp. She can't find Sam, so she makes her way to the campground, thinking he has run to the campground for safety since she told him to go there no matter what.

Once Abby reaches the campground, she discovers that Sam is nowhere to be found. She also discovers that the campground appears to be deserted. She looks around the area and finally discovers a Jeep parked at the campground. She searches for the keys, but can't find them. Dejected, she continues to search for Sam and finally finds him.

While Abby was in the campground, Sam was hiding from the stranger. Sam lured the stranger to him, then sprayed bear spray in his face. Abby hears Sam calling for her in the distance, calls back to him and they are reunited. They create some distance between them and the stranger and decide to camp for the night.

That night, they build a rather large fire and seemingly fall asleep. The stranger finds them easily and makes his way to Abby. Sam is hiding in the bushes with a stick he had sharpened and goes to attack the stranger while his back is turned. Sam misses, and Abby opens her eyes and goes after the stranger with her own stick. A fight ensues where Sam slashes the stranger in the stomach with his father's pocketknife, then when the stranger falls, he bashes the stranger's head with a rock. Abby stops Sam as she is alarmed by how enraged his is, and the stranger slowly dies.

Sam goes through the stranger's backpack and discovers the keys to the Jeep. Abby and Sam make their way to the campsite and try to start the Jeep, only to discover the battery is dead. They decide to begin walking to find help and the movie ends.

My Thoughts:

I think the biggest question I have is why did the stranger decide to kill them? My guess is that when Jen brought some wine up to the mountain to cheer up Abby and left the empty wine bottles behind, this angered the stranger. I believe the stranger lived on the mountain and looked after it, and wanted to keep it clean. Any time someone would litter or mess up the mountain in any way, he would take it personally and kill the people who littered.

Or...he could just be completely insane and there is no real reason except he loves to kill people. I mean, he could be insane and hate litterers, but since he didn't hurt anyone until they littered, it kind of seems like the writer was going for a guy who absolutely hates litterers.

As far as the movie, I really liked how they took the time to develop the relationships between Abby, Jen, and Sam. I really liked each character and was saddened when they got hurt. I wanted them to all make it out of the woods alive and was hoping they'd figure out a way to beat the stranger without getting hurt.

The credits demonstrated to me that there wasn't a huge crew to create and make this movie, but they did a really good job on most of the film. The actors did a great job in their roles and were believable. The film itself looked really good and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

The only problem I had was the way the stranger looked. He wore a black outfit with long pants, a jacket with the hood up, and sunglasses. To me, he wasn't exactly scary for some reason. He just kind of looked goofy. Don't get me wrong, if some weirdo was following me in the woods, I'd be scared, but I expected him to look more menacing in the movie.

I think it would have been creepier if he wasn't wearing red/orange mirrored sunglasses and instead wore a hood that shielded his face in shadow, so you couldn't immediately see him in the background. That way, if you watched the movie again you might see him in places you hadn't before, making you kind of paranoid like Abby, Jen, and Sam were.

All in all, I liked the movie. It was kind of slow in the beginning, so you have to wait for the action to start. If you like slow-burn movies, you'd probably like this movie.

Final Thoughts:

If you have any questions about this movie, please feel free to ask. Did you like this movie? If you didn't, why not? Please share your comments in the comment section below!



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