DESOLATION (2017) Reviews and overview

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‘Never go off the trail’

Desolation is a 2017 American survival horror thriller directed by Sam Patton from a screenplay by Matt Anderson and Michael Larson-Kangas. It stars Toby Nichols, Jaimi Paige, Alyshia Ochse and Claude Duhamel.

After the death of her husband, Abby (Jaimi Page), her son, Sam (Toby Nichols) and best friend, Jen (Alyshia Ochse), venture into the forests of upstate New York on a camping trip, only to find themselves in danger from a mysterious hiker (Claude Duhamel) with malicious intentions.

As the trio attempts to navigate the vast wilderness in search of safety, they find themselves the hunted prey in a deranged killer’s terrifying game and the only way to survive is to kill – or be killed…


“There are no frills here, nothing over-the-top, and no gratuitous gore for shock value. Instead, Desolation traffics in real-life fears and psychological terrors: the idea that any of us could hike into the woods for a peaceful getaway, only to never be seen or heard from again. Enjoyable and unnerving…” Cryptic Rock

“With more meat to the material, the movie might not have to stretch itself through slow-to-start early scenes or belabored foreshadowing, such as coming in for close-ups on a pocketknife obviously planned for critical play later.  This is still a fine first effort for Sam Patton and company.” Culture Crypt

“Weighing more heavily on our patience than our nerves, Sam Patton’s feature debut, Desolation, is a slow-burn horror flick that never quite goes anywhere, making the proceedings feel inconsequential and lackluster.’ Film Pulse

“It all boils down to how you would like to look at Desolation. As an acting piece – it’s pretty damn impressive (Paige and Ochse have oodles of brilliant scenes for their respective acting reels). For dialogue and character history – Desolation is a winner. But as a horror film or a thriller – it’s not good.  It stumbles, never creates real suspense and never goes faster than a few miles per hour.” Horrorfreak News

” …viewers will definitely care about these characters’ fates, which is too often not the case in slasher-stalker horror movies. In fact, Patton and screenwriters Matt Anderson and Michael Larson-Kangas devote more time to character development than a great many non-genre films. Patton also rather slyly plays with our horror movie expectations down the stretch.” J.B. Spins

“Patton’s straightforward, no-frills direction is more rewarding in Desolation’s conversational moments than in its conventional violent ones. The question of whether Abby and Sam will survive becomes less important than whether their frayed relationship can be mended if they do, and while it’s commendable that an indie terror-in-the-woods flick would address these concerns, this one does so at the expense of true scares.” Rue Morgue


Desolation was released in the United States in select movie houses and on VOD on December 15, 2017, via IFC Midnight. On May 8, 2018, it was released on Netflix in certain territories.

Filming locations:

Utica, New York

Running time:

78 minutes


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