Franklin Park Native Makes Directing Debut with 'Donner Pass'

By Ramirez, Chris | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 28, 2011 | Go to article overview

Franklin Park Native Makes Directing Debut with 'Donner Pass'


Ramirez, Chris, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Elise Robertson is getting used to the director's chair.

Sure, the Franklin Park native has appeared in more than dozen acting roles, including one in the hit TV series "True Blood."

Then, there was the time she painted eyeballs on animated figures for Tim Burton.

She's now finding her voice behind the camera.

Robertson's latest expression will be on display Saturday at the Eerie Horror Film Festival in Erie. The North Allegheny High School grad was the director behind "Donner Pass," the latest contribution to the killer-teen universe.

Think of hunky guys in skiwear hooking up with lean hotties with magazine model good looks in a snow-covered mountain setting and you've got the basics. After that, though, the story gets complex.

Shot over 17 days in Los Angeles and Big Bear, Calif., the 86- minute film centers on a group of teens on a ski trip to the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was here 150 years earlier that a party of settlers became snowbound and cut off from the rest of the world.

As their provisions and hope dwindled, they had to resort to cannibalism to survive.

The teens stumble upon the Donner Party curse and find out, as members of their group start turning up dead and half-eaten, that it still haunts the mountains.

"It's got to be the most entertaining cannibal movie ever made," Robertson says, with a chuckle. "It's a case study into the concept that no one is who they seem to be."

"Donner Party" is one of about 40 shorts and feature-length movies being shown this week at the film festival, which has evolved into one of the most popular horror-genre screening events since it debuted in October 2004. …

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Franklin Park Native Makes Directing Debut with 'Donner Pass'
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