A dangerous mental patient has escaped, and the local radio newscaster warns anybody out driving not to pick up any trampers. For one young man, the warning comes a bit too late.
Sometimes it really pays off going completely blind into a movie. "Tramper" was a blind buy for me, as I came across the DVD at a rather cheap price. I liked the sound of the premise, and it was labeled as a German gore film, add that up with the cheap price, I figured why not.
It's a simple story, about a young man who picks up a drifter who's hands are covered in blood but he gives the driver a long story about hitting a deer. The young man gives the gentleman a ride, and while at first he seems like he's on the up-and-up, things take a turn as the man decides to make the ride more interesting. After both men hear the warnings from the newscaster, the mysterious passenger toys with the young man, by saying things and doing things that make him seem more suspicious. Then pulls it back, assuring the young man that he really is just a working man who had a bit of misfortune by hitting a deer.
That's the entire movie. It becomes a game between our two characters, and one for the audience to decide if the passenger really is the dangerous patient, or just an average Joe. The movie does a great job of building suspense, by having the passenger do things and say things that lead you to believe he's crazy and he's going to kill the driver. It draws the scenes out, and pulls the audience in and creates tension from building and building onto this idea that something is going to happen. Then just when you think something is about to happen, it brings it down by having the passenger laugh and tell the young man he is just messing around. Which only further creates anxiety in the viewer, as you know that, while things are calm for the moment, something is going to happen. So it does a fantastic job of building suspense and atmosphere from this small cat and mouse game the man is playing. The down side is that the movie is only 13 minutes long, so it never really gets to take full advantage of the suspense it creates, and it kind of rushes it along. The suspense and atmosphere are still there, but because of how quickly it moves through the scenes it isn't there quite long enough to be as effective as it could be.
The movie does have a bit of a twist ending that is meant to come as a surprise, but unfortunately because twist endings became so popular over the years, they've made them stale and redundant. So any viewer will be able to see the surprise ending coming, long before it ever happens. With that being said, the movie ends on a high note by having the final shot be a rather chilling image of the killer that I think will become very memorable to those who view the movie. "Tramper" is a strong movie that is very well made, and does an effective job of building suspense, but at the same time if it were just a bit longer it could have been much more effective and been an even better movie. Definitely a mature effort out of Germany who are more well known for their splatfests.