Friday, October 10, 2014

Horror Thoughts ‘14—Dark Mountain (2014) **

NR, 80 min.
Director: Tara Anaïse
Writers: Tara Anaïse, Tamara Blaich
Starring: Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, Shelby Stehlin

Can we all agree by now that going out into the wilderness with cameras to make a visual record of a ghost story is a bad idea? Not only does this movie reference “The Blair Witch Project” in concept and exact plot, but also it actually mentions it by name in one of its lines. It tries to add some new elements, like aliens and time travel, but never really takes them anywhere.

Once again we have three filmmakers, the director a girl, and two guys. Once again we have local legends tied to a geographical landmark. Once again we get different film formats representing the different types of cameras being used. Why does everyone’s cell phone cameras look like old-fashioned 8mm images, though? Is that a standard cell phone setting? Movies on my cell phone don’t look like that. Once again after things go wrong the filmmakers find themselves walking in circles in a manner that doesn’t allow them to escape their hellish experience.

That last element also recalls another great indie horror flick. “Yellow Brick Road” is perhaps the ultimate crew of people trying to hunt down a local horror legend in the woods and finding themselves in some sort of hell they can’t escape. There were times I felt that film was also a definitive influence on this one. That one, however, turns into possibly the most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. It isn’t disturbing through gore or depravity, however. It’s disturbing through circumstance, which is as horrific as it gets. “Dark Mountain” not so much.

One bright spot is its cinematography, which is nothing short of beautiful for a movie shot on such simple digital media devices. No, I can’t explain the look of the cell phone footage, but it looks great. The movie will work for some people, but for me it was too derivative of “Blair Witch” and it introduced too many ideas that are never used in the plot. 

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