Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Christopher Donaldson's Ditched

Cody takes a look at a horror movie that's now on VOD.

After a couple decades of working in art departments as a storyboard artist and directing shorts and TV episodes, Christopher Donaldson has made his feature directorial debut with an interesting horror film called Ditched, which has just been released on VOD.

The film begins with a paramedic named Melina (Marika Sila) waking up in the wreckage of an ambulance that has crashed off a country road, gone down an embankment, and ended up on its roof at the edge of a forest. Melina's memory is foggy, but she is able to recall that she was in the midst of the medical transfer of three convicts when the crash happened. That's not too difficult to remember, because there's a dead convict on the ground, another convict in the back of the police car that has crashed alongside the ambulance, and a convict named Franson (Kris Loranger) still strapped to a gurney in the back of the ambulance, talking like a total psycho.

The ambulance and the police car were ambushed, forced off the road, and the surviving paramedics, police officers, and convicts soon realize that there is a group of people out there in the woods, watching them, waiting to pick them off one-by-one. I won't give away any details on who these killers are, that's something that should be discovered while watching the movie, but I will say that Donaldson didn't go with the sort of antagonists you'd expect to see given the set-up. My first assumption was that the people who ambushed the transfer were in some way associated with one of the convicts and were trying to free their friend, but that's not the case. All of the convicts are targets. Everyone in those two vehicles are. The actual explanation of what's going on here is highly improbable, but it adds an intriguing mystery into the mix that keeps you watching so you can gather all the information.

There are some standouts among the killers I do have to mention. Mackenzie Gray makes a strong impression as Caine, the man who is leading the bloodthirsty group and delivers a ton of exposition at a point in the film when it is desperately needed. My favorite of the bunch was Louie Koutis as an elderly, soft-spoken man... who wants to cut up one of the characters with a chainsaw.

Ditched features some good kills, which is no surprise when you take into account that the effects were provided by veteran FX creator Bill Terezakis. Terezakis racked up a ton of credits working on effects since the 1980s, the two most important of his credits (as far as I'm concerned) being his work on Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and Freddy vs. Jason. Terezakis served as an executive producer on Ditched, which is a major reason why I was interested in checking the movie out... especially since I had recently heard the very sad news that he passed away last year at the age of just 55. This turned out to be the last film he worked on, and it's sad to know that we won't have the chance to see more Terezakis effects in the future.

Ditched is a fun movie to watch if you're into slashers, and its 86 minutes go by quickly. Suspending disbelief to go along with the story, I was entertained and only had a couple issues. One was the lack of payoff to a cool set-up: to defend himself, paramedic Aiden (Lee Lopez) tapes a bunch of syringes to his hand to punch attackers with, bringing to mind the Kickboxer fight where the fighters' hands were wrapped in rope with broken glass stuck to it. But while Aiden's syringe glove could have brought a moment of badass, bloody self-defense into the picture, he might as well have never made it at all. That was disappointing. An early stretch of the film was also difficult to look at because it was full of distracting lens flares and bright lights (from the crashed police car) flashing into the camera. Thankfully, those light issues don't continue through the entire film, and Ditched actually takes on a nice visual style, showing images soaked in colorful lighting that go perfectly with the old school synth score.

Ditched can be found on VOD right now, and a Blu-ray release is scheduled for February 15th.

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