Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Vikram Weet
Stars: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright
Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) directs this documentary style found footage film about a group of five students who decide to head to the Russian mountains to go to the infamous Dyatlov Pass in order to try and uncover what really happened there in Nineteen fifty-nine. The students have applied for a grant which when they find out they have been successful, they gather their things to make the long arduous trip.
We find out via various new channel reports that the students have gone missing and that search and rescue teams are doing their best to locate them. Back to a previous time and we see the students chatting into a camera telling us what they plan to do, how and who with etc etc. The bulk of the remaining film then follows their journey from home to Russia and the events they encounter once there.
Once in Russia they uncover that a tenth member of the original expedition but who never traveled is still alive and at a local hospital. They go to interview him but are told by staff that he is dead. They then notice what appears to be a man holding a sign (in Russian) at one one of the upper windows. They eventually manage to procure a lift to the base of the mountain range where they encounter one of the original rescuers. She mentions that they found eleven bodies and not the nine stated by the Russian authorities. Unperturbed, they continue on their own where strange things begin to start happening.
This is an interesting film and I strongly feel that having Harlin direct helped the film a lot. He is experienced and knows what he is doing. Now normally I can’t stand most found footage films but this one worked quite well. It is mostly a documentary of their journey rather than found footage and this is a good thing. No stupid hand-held mobile cameras making you feel like you’re on a fairground ride. The camerawork in general is mostly good and thankfully there is very little actual found footage.
There is some excellent photography present here, and as in some other films, the location surely helps. The scenery is simply breathtaking and this film has a reasonable script, no doubt helped by it not being a low-budget production. The plot while not revolutionary, includes a lot of the facts and myths surrounding what may have happened to the original nine climbers, from yeti’s, strange lights, to the Mansi tribe and the Russian military.
Overall this is a reasonable film with decent production values (and sound for a change) and is worth a watch if you know little about the tragic Dyatlov Pass incident. For those who know as much as one is able to via books, internet and other sources, then this may not be your cup of tea as they do stretch the believability of what may have happened into a different direction.
The Sage’s Rating: 6/10