31 Aug 2013

'The Dyatlov Pass Incident' Review

Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Vikram Weet
Stars: Gemma Atkinson, Matt Sokoe, Richard Reid
Running Time: 100 mins
Sub-Genre: Found Footage, Supernatural, Thriller
Year: 2013

Five young filmmakers retrace the steps of a doomed group of hikers in pursuit of an unsolvable mystery who were involved in the Dyatlov Pass incident, on track, they discover some dark and twisted secrets beneath it all.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (or the basic rename of Devil's Pass) hit over here in the UK on the 23rd, and not knowing anything about this film I went into this with a clear mind and not a lot of interest. Due to my hesitation over this film, it took me 2 days to actually get around to watching it (sorry). but anyways, let's get stuck in to Devil's Pass, and all I can say before going deep into this review is that this nasty little found-footage flick ain't no Blair Witch Project...

Dyatlov Pass is a crisp display on everything that should not be done in a movie based of an actual life event, so if you're planning to make a movie based off of some story with no explanation, then trying to add some X-Files-esque twist into the plot that is more suited than Paris Hilton playing an wonder woman in a movie; it just can't happen. Unfortunately, Dyatlov Pass just goes ahead and makes one of the worst plot moments in a long time, causing nothing but complete laughter and cringe for everyone else to watch.

What starts as a well developed, realistic news report feel ends up becoming a complete mockery of it's own work, setting the standards for worst movie based of a real event. Completely missing the mark, Dyatlov Pass tries to follow the formula Blair Witch designed, sticking by the rules of found-footage horror, but in this case, it fails miserably, coming out worse than Chernobyl Diaries, and at least that was even the slightest bit enjoyable. Nothing about this film works, not the hour-long anticipation for something to happen, nor the final half hour that is completely bonkers in all the wrong reasons, Dyatlov Pass simply becomes the very thing it set out to avoid, becoming an unintentional mockumentary.

Complete with hollow characters and a half-baked story, the acting never quite reaches a level of believability but I mean how could it with a final act so horrible. Though the performance from Gemma Atkinson isn't exactly 'bad' it isn't really 'good' either as she never quite feels like the right gal to play the lead role; the blonde bimbo who dies during sex maybe, but not the investigator with bad news report skills. As for the rest of the cast, they manage to pull their weight enough to stop their performances from becoming completely empty, but the cast isn't exactly what I would call "talented" by any means. To put things in perspective, the acting could have been a lot worse.

Dyatlov Pass doesn't quite know what it is, so it never has the opportunity to explain what it is trying to bring across, so by the time the tables turn multiple times, you are left with a half-explained explanation to what has happened, so you never actually quite know whats going on. With extremely better effects and a more developed story, this could have turned out to be something really good, but instead we have an amateur attempt to try and be smart. This film is not smart, it tries to be but never quite gets there so ends up looking completely ridiculous; that may be what the director Harlin was going for, but it just came across as a laughable attempt at an intelligent found-footage thriller.

What starts off slightly interesting, slowly but surely sinks into complete parody, and what had the potential to be frightening and fresh, ends up being dumb and laughable; it's a shame really when you watch something with true potential turn out to be really crap unfold right before your very eyes. After the unbearably boring first hour and moving into the final half hour, I had little hope for the last scene, though I thought there was a possibility that could it have made the film even remotely watchable... Boy was I wrong. The final scene with surely make you wish you had never watched this film in the first place, and is that bad with effects that it looks like an early Playstation 3 Silent Hill game; it was horrible to witness the horrendous effects unravel before my eyes. Perhaps that was the biggest downfall, the effects, but without that ugly twist then the effects would have gone a miss, so for those reasons alone, they made a possible 2 star film a 1 star experience.

VERDICT: Not scary nor original, The Dyatlov Pass Incident displays itself as one of the worst event horror films in recent years due to it's obscure twist and downright horrible final act, and its attempt to follow the footsteps of The Blair Witch Project completely takes away from what it could have been, and comes out looking worse than Chernobyl Diaries.

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