Cast: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Gemma Atkinson, Richard Reid, Luke Albright
Running time: 100mins
The lowdown: The Blair Witch Project gets a middle budget makeover in Renny Harlin’s fun horror adventure. A group of college kids investigate a real-life mystery from 1959 about the violent, unexplained death of skiers in the Ural mountains. Mixing ghost story unease with bizarre plot twists, this is surely the most bonkers explanation of what may have occurred and knows not to take itself seriously. A largely British cast works well with the elements and American accents, while Die Hard 2 director Harlin again proves he should be trusted with bigger budgets.
The full verdict: Nothing strikes fear in the heart more than the phrase “found footage horror”. But, riffing on the Blair Witch framework, the similarly titled The Dyatlov Pass Incident serves up chills both supernatural and literal, the film being partly shot on location in the Russian mountains.
A group of college students film an expedition to the Urals to uncover the mystery of why a group of experienced skiers were discovered dead in the mountains, some only partially clothed and others deceased due to internal trauma but with no external wounds.
So far, so creepy, and the movie goes the Blair Witch route of back story delivered by perky teens, encounters with creepy locals and then out into the wilderness for nasty goings-on, including the obligatory night vision sequence also seen in Rec.
Presented as the expedition’s video record, leaked onto the internet, the film plays fast and loose with the set-up, not letting it get in the way of a decent scare.
Harlin is no stranger to the elements having made the Stallone actioner Cliffhanger, and his horror credentials include A Nightmare on Elm Street IV and that Exorcist prequel Paul Schrader originally made.
Here he puts his cast (including 13 Hrs’ Atkinson and Misfits’ Stokoe) up to their knees in snow on Russian slopes, escalating dread as the weather and other things threaten the group.
A third act trip into a hidden bunker takes the film into more familiar horror territory, but for a Friday night frightener this offers decent no-frills chills.