Verdict: 3 / 5
Devil’s Pass is yet another found-footage movie. Featuring yet another group of college students following the trail of some long-dead mystery. Or is it?
The movie’s premise is rather simple at first: a group of students travels to the Ural mountains in northern Russia to investigate the 1959 Dyatlov Pass incident. During the Cold War reports emerged of a group of nine youths who traveled across the northern Urals on a ski trek. The skiers were found dead, but under mysterious circumstances. Official reports state the group died of hypothermia, but there were questions. Why were some bare foot? Why were the bodies scattered far apart? Why was one members showing signs of radiation? These question were never answered.
The group discovers more unanswered questions atop the mountain. Why are there always large footprints in the snow which never lead anywhere? What lies behind the steel door in the mountain that locks from the outside? I would love you tell you more, but I just don’t want to spoil anything else. The story unfolds in an interesting way that reminds me slightly of cult classic, Twelve Monkeys.
I’ve previously reviewed The Jungle – another found-footage movie – but one that the actors didn’t seem to want to be in. However, Devil’s Peak’s cast is interesting, more believable, but sadly not as likable as the director may have intended. Their constant chatter feels incredibly forced and unappealing. There’s the obligatory sex scene, but nothing that goes beyond a 13 rating.
A big gripe – but I find this with most found-footage movies – is the camera work. Yes, I know, found footage camera work is supposed to be amateurish, but in this case there is very little consistency. Sometimes it’s not amateurish enough, appearing too professional, and at times it’s on the other side of the scale completely with the camera wildly swinging about. It also seems to be at odds with the action.
The sound effects are decent. Everything sounds natural, and all of the voices are clear considering most of the movie takes place in heavy winds and in snow. The special effects towards the end are lacklustre, but you cannot expect much more from the genre.
I went into this movie expecting nothing, but came out pleasantly surprised. While promoted as a horror movie, I found it to be an excellent piece of science fiction. Worth a rental.