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Donner Pass (2011)

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Donner Pass has a well-known and macabre history - the place where George Donner and his party got stuck in the winter of 1846 and were forced to resort to cannibalism to keep from starving. But what if it wasn't just history?



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dead Mother
Luca Bovelli ...
George Donner
Desiray Ortiz ...
Carter (as Kevin Kearns)
Andrew Reyes ...
Gullible SUV driver


In 1846, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the area known as Donner Pass, a starving man kills three others to eat their flesh during the winter, but a boy witnesses the murders and flees. In the present days, the teenagers Kayley, her boyfriend Mike, her cousin Nicole and the outcast Thomas travel to the house in Donner Pass of Thomas's parents that are in Europe. Thomas recommends his friends to be careful with the house since his parents do not know that they are spending the weekend there. They learn that the police are hunting down the criminal James Michael Epstein. Out of the blue, the troublemaker boyfriend of Nicole, Derek, comes with his friends Brody, Valerie and A.J. in his SUV to stay with Nicole, despite the protests of Thomas. Soon their beer runs out and Brody drives the SUV to buy some more in the town. Brody goes missing and soon Mike, Kayley and Thomes find his body eaten. Meanwhile Valerie is murdered near the house and the car has flat tires. Who might be the ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for bloody horror violence, language, a sexual assault, nudity and teen drinking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

15 November 2012 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Cannibal Rising  »


Box Office


$800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


When they go out to the car to shovel it out from the snow storm, the snow is up past the tires, yet, down the driveway tire tracks can still be seen, as if it barely snowed. See more »


References Kung Fu (1972) See more »


Just a Taste
written by Rich McCulley & Heather Waters
performed by Heather Waters
courtesy of Mighty Like a Rosebud Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Decent low budget horror weakened by lazy character writing
28 August 2013 | by See all my reviews

If you've spent enough time watching the indie horrors that appear so frequently on Netflix instant, you'll know by now that only about one in three of them is watchable. Not good, just watchable. Donner Pass is one of the watchable ones.

It's basically a tame slasher movie with a spin on the Wendigo myth thrown in (but don't expect something as good as "Ravenous"). It's elevated above the usual crowd by decent acting and direction, a restrained pace, and an interesting rape/revenge subplot. One thing I very much liked was that when the bad stuff did start going down, the characters made some pretty logical decisions (such as attempting to dig a car out of snow while the others stand guard post with weapons at all four corners). It's always a welcome relief when you don't have to shout "as if you would do that!" at the screen.

Unfortunately, like with so many films of this ilk, the character writing is where it fails. Yet again we're introduced to a group of bickering twentysomethings that I have a seriously hard time believing would ever come together as acquaintances let alone friends. Each character never gets past the standard slasher stereotype - the bitch, the jock, the bad boy, the nerd, and the blank canvas final girl. And worse, most of the characters are so horrible that you never get invested in their wellbeing, which makes every death scene at best empty and meaningless and at worst, a relief.

For any would-be indie horror film maker reading this, I implore you to take this simple formula to heart: "Make a character *we can like* and then put them in danger".

It really shouldn't be hard but almost once a month I see a film where crappy characters are the principle flaw in an otherwise solid horror movie. If only we lived in a world where the first thing they taught at screen writing school was "how to make the audience give a damn".

Rant over, back to the movie: Donner Pass is well made enough that, if you can get past the characters, it is worth watching. The subtle supernatural slant seems to rub a few viewers the wrong way but I actually enjoyed it more because of it (mundane slasher flicks bore me). I give it props for some intelligent plot decisions and for having a bit more of a grown-up feel than many tween-targeted slashers. It's not great, but it's worth watching. 5/10.

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