Christopher Donaldson’s Ditched is nothing short of a wild ride. Coming from a background as a storyboard artist for numerous horror projects, including Child’s Play (2019), The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the Van Helsing television series I was really looking forward to seeing how his artistic capabilities would translate from paper to the screen in his own directorial style.
Given that this is Donaldson’s debut feature film I was pretty impressed with how the whole film came together. You can see the beginnings of a genius filmmaker blossoming throughout the scenes of this gritty and relentless gorefest. The film has its faults for sure, but if this is only the start, Christopher Donaldson has a very long and exciting career ahead of him.
“…nothing short of a wild ride […a] gritty and relentless gorefest.”
Ditched opens on a brutal car accident that has left an ambulance overturned and a police car in shambles. We learn pretty quickly that what was supposed to be a routine prison transfer to a hospital was derailed by unknown forces off the road and down a steep embankment into a ditch. Protagonist and paramedic Melina (Marika Sila) is the only passenger conscious among two other paramedics, two police officers, and three prisoners.
As she slowly becomes aware of her surroundings Melina discovers that her co-workers have also survived the crash, as well as the two officers, though some are in very poor shape. With no cell service and various debilitating injuries, the group comes to the realization that they are stuck. Things don’t seem incredibly dire, that is until Melina starts to realize that they may not be alone out there in that ditch.
Slowly Melina learns that her friends, and the people she blindly trusts, may not be as innocent as they appear. However, she may not be all she appears either. Christopher Donaldson draws clear inspiration from the Saw franchise and its iconic villain Jigsaw in the direction he takes this film and what it is ultimately trying to say about morality and the human condition.
Does having a noble job like a police officer or EMT automatically make you a good person? Does being a prisoner make your life less important than that of someone who was never convicted of a crime? These are some of the questions that Donaldson asks his viewers and he does a pretty decent job of getting his broader statement across. It is in some of the other finer details that things become muddy.
There is a lot of intense dialogue in this film that really calls for a strong cast of actors, but unfortunately, most of the performances ended up being pretty underwhelming. As a viewer when you watch a film, especially a horror film, you hope to see actors that can deliver a dynamic performance that keeps you on your toes the whole time. Commitment to the integrity of the story is paramount.
Some of the weaker performances took me out of the film at times but the saving grace is our antagonist Caine, played by veteran horror actor Mackenzie Grey (Grave Encounters). He commits so strongly to his role and elevates the film to another level entirely. He delivers his lines and embodies his character with such veracity that you hang on his every word and movement. I actually found myself sort of rooting for him which I am not sure was intended.
“Any horror fan with a hankering for blood and guts should most definitely check out Ditched“
The practical effects are truly the shining star of the whole production. The film does not really ramp up until about the 38-minute mark, but when it does…boy are you in for a bloody good time! For a first-time director to have the guts to go for it the way he does in the special effects department is just so exciting to watch. Any horror fan with a hankering for blood and guts should most definitely check out Ditched because I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Who knew there were so many lifesaving things in an ambulance that can also double as vicious weapons. The more you know!
Christopher Donaldson’ Ditched is currently playing in select theatres and will be on Blu-Ray February 15th, 2022 through the Dread Presents label. Let us know what you thought of this trapped-in-the-wilderness thriller over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.