The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Dyatlov Pass Incident (aka 'Devil's Pass') | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Dyatlov Pass Incident (aka 'Devil's Pass')

A documentary crew investigate the site of a notorious mountaineering incident in Russia.

Directed by: Renny Harlin
Starring: Holly Goss, Gemma Atkinson, Richard Reid, Matt Stokoe

In 1959, nine hikers, led by Igor Dyatlov, died mysteriously while exploring a remote region of Russia's Ural mountains. To this day, no explanation has been given for what has come to be known as "The Dyatlov Pass Incident". To investigate the incident, Holly (Goss) assembles a documentary crew and heads to Russia. Once there, any efforts to obtain information on the occurrence are thwarted by local officials. When the crew heads out into the wilds of the Urals and reaches the area, a series of increasingly odd events occurs.
There's a point when every horror movie fad reaches its sell by date. That point usually occurs when mainstream film-makers decide to get in on the act. Last year, Barry Levinson gave us 'The Bay'. A found footage flick from an Oscar winner? Now, Renny Harlin, known for his overblown action fests, attempts to get down and dirty, but fails miserably.
The motivation to make a found footage movie is generally financial. It's very difficult to make a good FF movie but it is, however, very cheap. Harlin, presumably, hasn't quite reached the point in his career where he needs to work on a limited budget that would require indulging in this type of storytelling. Most FF movies are unwatchable and Harlin's entry in the sub-genre is no exception. At times, it feels like he's forgotten the rules of this type of film-making and you find yourself forgetting a character is meant to filming all this until someone addresses the camera directly. Harlin, like several others, clearly wants his film to have the gimmicky veneer of found footage but can't quite be bothered putting the extra work in to make this technique work. The whole affair is incredibly dull, though it does have an interesting pay-off.
Recently we've seen a disturbing trend of real-life tragedies providing the basis of horror and action movies. The memory of the Chernobyl disaster has been sullied by last year's incredibly insensitive 'The Chernobyl Diaries' and again by this year's awful-on-every-level 'A Good Day To Die Hard'. Harlin takes another sad chapter of recent Slavic history and uses it as a selling point for his cheesy horror film. Do western film-makers think Eastern Europeans don't watch movies and so catastrophic events from that part of the world are fair game for cheap exploitation?
With its somewhat interesting twist ending, 'The Dyatlov Pass Incident' could have made an effective 'Tales From the Crypt' episode but Harlin creates little in the way of scares or suspense to justify its feature length.

Eric Hillis