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The Donner Party (2009)

R  |   |  Drama  |  23 October 2009 (USA)
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Based on the real events of The Donner Party tragedy. The Donner Party was a group of California-bound American settlers caught up in the western expansion of the 1840s. After becoming ... See full summary »


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Cast overview:
William Foster
William Eddy
Amanda McCutchen
Franklin Graves
Patrick Dolan
Ann Fosdick
Eleanor Eddy
Milt McCutchen
Jay Fosdick
Mary Graves
Sarah Foster


Based on the real events of The Donner Party tragedy. The Donner Party was a group of California-bound American settlers caught up in the western expansion of the 1840s. After becoming snowbound in the Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846-1847, a number of the trapped settlers joined together in a final effort to reach California and organize a rescue party. Written by Anacapa Entertainment

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Survival Lies Within



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some violence

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

23 October 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Forlorn  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


After the group leaves with Stanton, when Graves attacks Fosdick, Fosdick's hat falls off as they hit the ground. When the camera angle changes, it's back on his head. Then when the camera angle changes again, it's gone. See more »

Crazy Credits

The last two minutes of credits are accompanied only by the sound of a strong wind. See more »


Referenced in Zombies: A Living History (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Disappointing Version of the Legendary Event
25 September 2011 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Donner Party, The (2009)

** (out of 4)

Disappointing telling of the now infamous Donner Party, a group of people traveling from Missouri to California but along their journey they decide to try a short-cut but this leads them into the Sierra Mountains where they become trapped by the snow. Our film starts off with them running out of food so a group of people try to walk away from the camp in hopes of finding safety but soon their chances of survival become even slimmer so they must resort to cannibalism. THE DONNER PARTY is a low-budget film that sadly never really gets anything right. This movie is far from being horrible but there's no denying that it's a major disappointment as the screenplay and direction just aren't what's needed for the material. The problem with the story itself is that there's never any real connection to any of the characters. There's no denying that what they're going through is quite depressing but this is only true because we know the real story. The "story" being told on the screen just never really grabs your attention and it certainly never pulls you into any sort of drama. There's not a single character in the film that you really care for and I can't believe the screenplay wouldn't develop them any more. Another problem with the story is that it's just not all that interesting. I think a better story would have been about the actual case involving them setting out, taking the wrong trail and then the winter stuff. Instead, we're given a story of a small party who set out to find help. Again, the screenplay just doesn't make it entertaining. I'd also say that the direction is at fault because there's not a bit of atmosphere throughout the film. This was another disappointment because there's not a single scene where you get to feel as if you're there with the people and that dramatic danger of what the characters are going through is something that never connects with the viewer. Clayne Crawford steals the film in his lead role and Crispin Glover is also pretty good in a very restrained performance. However, at the end of the day the performances aren't enough to make this movie. If you want to know about the Donner Party it's best to check out a book or some other documentary.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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It was good, but not accurate at all. allison_young02
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