The Trap

"The Trap" strands two drug dealers and four unlucky hikers in the wilderness, then looks on with barely concealed indifference as the groups try to out-shoot, out-squabble and outsmart each other. But, smarts are in short supply in helmer Sam Chouia's poorly scripted and staged drama. Theatrical auds will be slim with vid action only a little better.

With:
Damon - James C. Burns Jason - Jason Rossow Tabitha - Catherine Kresge Richard - Richard DeGuilio Erica - Brooke Lyons Uma - Nancy Weyrauch Simon - Lee Perkins

Cheaply conceived DV feature “The Trap” strands two drug dealers and four unlucky hikers in the wilderness, then looks on with barely concealed indifference as the groups try to out-shoot, out-squabble and outsmart each other. But, smarts are in short supply in first-time helmer Sam Chouia’s poorly scripted and staged drama, which treats its characters, the female ones in particular, with contempt. Theatrical auds will be slim with vid action only a little better.

Story strains credibility from the start, as a man (Lee Perkins) is shot several times but still drives long distances over winding mountain roads and looks no worse off than if he’d had a nasty ketchup accident. He’s on the run from the murderous Damon (James C. Burns) and his moll Uma (Nancy Weyrauch), who are intent on purloining his cash stash from a botched drug deal.

At the same time, four vapid, good-looking twentysomethings venture into the nearby woods for a hiking trip that quickly devolves into a double-date of unprecedented misery. First exchanging the usual crass banter, then lobbing assaults on each other’s sexual prowess, thuggish ex-soldier Jason (Jason Rossow) and whiny Richard (Richard DeGuilio) soon come to physical blows. Girlfriends, pouty Erica (Brooke Lyons) and weak-willed Tabitha (Catherine Kresge), shout at them to stop from the sidelines. But they don’t stop, not even after they stumble on the SUV where Ketchup Man has finally bled to death, with the bag of money on the seat next to him.

Displaying a lack of moral fiber as well as intelligence, the hikers steal the loot, only to find themselves being chased by Damon and Uma. A heated standoff follows, with the bad guys holding an injured Tabitha hostage while the slightly-less-bad guys desperately try to figure out how to get out of the woods alive. Mounting panic is aggravated by incessant, expletive-laced bickering on both sides, that’s grating both to listen to and to watch.

“The Trap” also functions, rather crudely, as a mini-battle of the sexes; all the male characters are horny chauvinists, their female counterparts starved for sensitivity and romance. One particularly upsetting and pointless scene shows Tabitha being tortured and nearly raped as her assailant shoves a gun in her mouth. Later, Erica is forced to lie down at gunpoint, with the camera situated conveniently at the perfect vantage from which to ogle Lyons’ cleavage.

While producer Kevin Derek’s photography makes effective use of the outdoor locations (pic was shot largely in San Bernardino National Forest) and does an OK job of communicating spatial geography, tech specs still leave much to be desired. Gunplay boasts a few point-of-view bullet shots that seem to have been thrown in for no reason other than that they look cool — except they don’t.

The Trap

Production: A Melrose Films production. Produced by Kevin Derek. Directed, written by Sam Chouia.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Kevin Derek; editor, Derek, Chouia; music, Christopher Page; sound, Thomas Curley; f/x coordinators, Michael Valenzuela, Jon Rose; assistant director, Dorothy Milfort. Reviewed on DVD, Los Angeles, Jan. 30, 2005. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Damon - James C. Burns Jason - Jason Rossow Tabitha - Catherine Kresge Richard - Richard DeGuilio Erica - Brooke Lyons Uma - Nancy Weyrauch Simon - Lee PerkinsWith: Haniff Sangster, Michael Roert Nyman, Max Phoenix

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