Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by Vikram Weet
Starring: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright, Andy Thatchers, and Denise Evers
Five young filmmakers retrace the steps of a doomed group of hikers in pursuit of an unsolvable mystery.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident refers to the nine ski-hikers who died on February 2, 1959 in the Ural Mountains of Russia. The party was found dead with no apparent attacker. Two of the hikers suffered from cracked skulls, two from broken bones, and another missing her tongue. The Soviet government quickly dismissed the incident as “a compelling natural force”. The lack of survivors or witnesses continues to spark wild speculation on a Mulder and Scully level. I’m surprised it took so long to loosely base a movie on this inexplicable occurrence.
Five college students, the kind that can’t tell they’re crossing into found footage terror, decide to investigate the Ural Mountains on their own, videotaping the experience as they travel towards answers. One of my horror movie weaknesses in travel to foreign countries. These places are ages older than ‘Merica and shrouded in ancient evil, so count me out. If anything happens to your white ass while traversing through a haunted forest in Germany, don’t count on an Army Ranger saving your life. If you’re fortunate enough to have read Necroscope, you already know the type of evil lurking in Romania, Russia, and the colder reaches of the world. The Russian setting isn’t lost on the director, Renny Harlin, who paints a beautiful picture of snowy isolation.
The film follows a linear path, presenting itself in a Blair Witch manner. Kids go into mountains, all is well, something weird happens, the group fights, weirder things happen, et al. You can’t deny the creepy mountain atmosphere, and the mythology gets under my skin. The weight-bearing back story doesn’t adhere to the real details, If you can get past that, and perhaps not fault the film for taking itself so seriously; it’s an enjoyable time. You might find the acting and dialogue ridiculous at times. I would feel better if I thought it was done purposely, but I just can’t tell.
The film takes a hard left turn in the third act, ripping it from the horror template it followed rather strictly. Many horror and science fiction origins are explored and woven together on the way to answers. If you have Netflix and 90 minutes to kill on these cold winter days, I think you might like it. It doesn’t break any new ground, but I was just glad to hear rumors of yetis getting honorable mention in a horror flick.