I don’t know about you guys, but I have had some horrible luck with postal services over the past month or so. First UPS destroys my favorite autographed poster and piece in my collection and then FedEx delivers me a film to review that is unwatchable thanks to them crushing the case and the disc inside. Trusty Netflix came to the rescue by already having the film up and ready for my review. A special thanks to IFC for the heads up on its Netflix arrival.
Now that I can watch this film that I have been dying to see, I have settled in to watch Devil’s Pass, a film directed by Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight) about a group of college students who head to the Ural Mountains to retrace the steps of a team of nine hikers who died there over 50 years before. This was known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
The team includes Holly (Holly King), a psychology student, Jensen (Matt Stokoe), a film student, Denise (Gemma Atkinson), the sound woman and Andy (Ryan Hawley) and J.P. (Luke Albright) who are expert climbers. Holly has been assigned a project on the Dyatlov Pass Incident and decides to make a documentary film on her own investigation into what happened. When they disappear in the same place as the Dyatlov team, their footage is found.
Much to the tune of Blair Witch, the whole team keeps warning Holly that something is wrong and that they should leave but Holly is a complete stubborn Heather Donahue and is determined that her film will be made no matter what. When things get really bad, she just keeps on filming and irritating everyone.
I love films like these because the characters always start out so happy and excited to be taking the trip but then something happens to ruin it for everyone. In this case, it’s a set of large bare footprints in the snow that exist only in their campsite. They don’t lead in or out as if something just appeared and disappeared. The popular theory passed around is the Yeti; another, aliens.
The film is one large cliché, using such popular tricks as doors that are open now and weren’t before, evil Russians and mutated evolution monsters [see The Descent and Quarantine]. The last thirty minutes feels like it was written by a completely different screenwriter than the first hour and that’s when things start to get a little cheeseballs. There are also at least three moments when the movie could have ended but it pushed on anyway. The writers had the opportunity to do something really great but it ended up feeling rushed at the end, and, honestly, a bit ridiculous. I really expected a whole lot more from Renny Harlin, but I suppose you can only so much with a budget.
Don’t let my criticism discourage you. This is still a fun movie to watch. In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad choice to watch while you’re bound indoors due to this crazy winter weather. In simple summation: If you’re a fan of The Blair Witch Project, you’ll enjoy Devil’s Pass. If not, you might want to just avoid it.