“A generic found footage film!”
Think The Blair Witch Project but with snow instead of leaves and you pretty much have the plot of this found-footage movie. Not content with a Google search, five young filmmakers set out to recreate the episode where nine Russians mysteriously disappeared in the Ural Mountains in 1959. An avalanche and Stargate-inspired wormhole can’t save this mess from falling into the lower echelons of found-footage horror. Renny Harlin, the cast, and anyone associated with this turgid pile of faeces should be ashamed.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident was recently rebranded ‘Devil’s Pass’ because it’s easier to pronounce and remember. If this doesn’t set off warning bells and tell you all you need to know about the film’s demographic then the opening half hour will. In a ‘we’ve seen this all before’ found footage movie a group of generic students with too much curiosity and too little common sense decide to investigate the unsolved case from 1959 which saw nine Russian skiers mysteriously disappear in the Ural Mountains. When we eventually get to the big reveal there’s no hint of originality or payoff just more unfathomably stupid decisions from a cast of largely dislikeable characters. To add further irritation the FrightFest screening cut off the bottom of the subtitles, but perhaps this was a blessing in disguise to save us from further tedium and disbelief. This isn’t the worst film you’ll ever see but it is a generic by-numbers found footage film that offers nothing that hasn’t been done better before and on that basis why on earth would you waste one-hundred minutes of your life?
Found footage meets Algernon Blackwood – or does it? Here’s a Blair Witch type movie that kept me guessing right up until the final scene, and re-establishes director Renny Harlin (Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Prison) as a director capable of delivering some decent horror. 21 year old Holly Goss gets grant money to investigate a famous historical case in which nine explorers died in the Urals. Off she goes with her team of movie university explorers, including busty sound recorder Denise and three blokes with the requisite characteristics of hunkiness, woolly hats and bristly facial hair. When they get to the pass, days before they should, phones don’t work and the compass spins. There are naked footprints in the snow and a severed tongue at the local weather station. When Holly discovers something odd buried in the snow the film takes a very interesting right turn indeed but to say any more would be to spoil it.
JOHN LLEWELLYN PROBERT
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Vikram Weet
Starring: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright
Running time: 100 minutes
FrightFest Screening: 23 August 2013
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