devil's pass | renny harlin | vikram weet | holly gross | matt stokoe | luke albright | found footage | monster | monsters | creature | creatures | creature feature | mystery | thriller | russia | finland | ryan hawley | gemma atkinson | government | time travel
Film: Devil’s Pass
Director: Renny Harlin
Writer: Vikram Weet
Starring: Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe and Luke Albright
This was a movie that I never heard of until I got into listening to podcast. I believe this originally popped up due to the fact that it was found footage so I think that someone had this on a found footage challenge. I’m not completely sure there though. I also feel like this was covered on a few different podcasts I listen to as well. Aside from that, I came in blind. I did see that this was based on the Dyatlov Pass Incident which popped up to me recently as an unexplained mystery. The synopsis here is a group of students go to the location of the infamous Dyatlov pass incident to make a documentary, but things take a turn for the worse as the secret of what happened there is revealed.
We start this off getting a bit of back-story. Back in February of 1959, 9 Russian hikers went into the mountains and died. The place where it happened is now known as the Dyatlov Pass. There is also an interesting glimpse at a couple in night vision and the woman is crying. This felt a bit like The Blair Witch Project, which I believe heavily influenced this movie.
For this movie, we’re following Holly King (Holly Goss) who is really interested in the events of this mystery at the Dyatlov Pass. Working with her is a film student of Jensen Day (Matt Stokoe). They explore a few possibilities here earlier as to what could have happened. The most commonly accepted one is that they had madness induced by hypothermia. Jensen believes it was a yeti, but this is a bit out there along with the idea that it could be aliens. It does seem that after initially writing it, a mini-avalanche could actually be what happened. Regardless, they plan an expedition to go to this pass and make a documentary to see if they can get to the bottom of what happened.
Coming with them is a sound woman of Denise Evers (Gemma Atkinson). They also hire two experienced climbers of John Patrick Hauser Jr. (Luke Albright). He goes by JP. The other is Andy Thatcher (Ryan Hawley). Their journey takes them to modern day Ukraine.
We do know that they end up going missing. The footage we’re seeing is taken from a website. There’s a Wikileaks like group that hacked and released the footage. It appears the Ukrainian government was trying to cover it up. We also get an interview where a member of the Mansi tribe, which these people are indigenous to the area, has an explanation for what is happening.
Regardless, our group goes to Ukraine. They go to the bar where the Dyatlov group went the night before they embarked. We get some weird stuff happening immediately. There’s a hiker that was supposed to go and he’s being kept in a mental hospital. When they go to interview him, they’re told he died. They see an old man in the window who is holding up a sign, warning them of something. A man by the name of Sergei (Nikolay Butenin) takes them to Vizhay, which is the closest village. He also gets them an interview with his aunt, Alya (Nelly Nielsen), who happened upon the Dyatlov group. She mentions there were two other hikers that weren’t revealed in the research.
The group then goes into the mountains and strange things start to happen. They find weird footprints in the snow that are much bigger than human. Could it be a yeti? They also just take a few steps and disappear. This group ends up making it to the pass much faster than expected and find things that are quite odd when they get there.
That’s where I want to leave my recap for this movie as that gets you up to speed. Now I know I established it in my introduction, but what I want to move into first would be that this is found footage. I feel that we’re getting the believability here that we would. This is a documentary film crew and they’re out there investigating what happened so I believe that they would film as much as they did. Of course, there are some convenient things that happen and are caught on film, but I expect that. Jensen loves his camera so I know he would film everything that he does. Holly reminds me a lot of Heather from The Blair Witch Project in that this was her idea. She takes blame as things go on, but much like Heather, she pushes things until everything falls apart.
What I found interesting was to see Renny Harlin as the director. I know him from mostly action films, but he also did Prison and Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. You don’t normally see a bigger name director like Harlin dipping into the found footage genre. I can see why they went to get him though with where things end up. What I also think I should include here is that the movie does an amazing job at introducing things earlier in the movie and then go back to them later. Things like aliens, the orange light in the sky, yeti and why there is radiation here all make sense to the final explanation of this story. I won’t spoil that here, but it all ties in. I’m going to do a spoiler section at the end to explain this as well.
Before moving away to something else, I love how the tension builds here. We know that they’re going to a place that is pretty desolate. They’re in a snow mountain pass. Once they arrive in the pass, their GPS, compass and a watch that should work via satellite. This really isn’t that much different from stranding them in a cabin in the woods. This is scarier though as the elements are a factor. They only have so much fresh water and food. I will say there is an avalanche happens that cripples their chances of getting out alive as well. It makes things quite interesting from there as well.
What I think I should go to next would be the effects. I’ve already said this is found footage and I like the found footage angle. I think that the cinematography works well to make me feel cold from the environment. What I do have issues with though is the effects. This movie constantly uses the cameras messing it. It does make sense as there is a something here with radiation, but it got annoying as you can tell it is a digital effect. I’m not a fan of this. There is also something else later that was just not great CGI. I understand what they’re doing with it, but it took me out of the movie as the graphics weren’t great.
To get back on to the positive though, I did like the acting. This is another one where no one is going to win awards, but they were believable. I could buy that Goss was a young student that is trying to make a name for herself by the research she is doing. Stokoe seemed like a film student that is awkward while also having a bit of arrogance about him. Albright and Hawley really do feel like these experienced climbers who are confident in their abilities. Atkinson is also solid as their sound woman. The rest all play the roles they needed and I didn’t have any problems with the acting.
That’s where I’m going to leave this recap of the movie. I think that the concept of this movie is really good taking this unexplained real event. I’m a fan of the writing to introduce a bunch of throw away concepts and lines that if you pay attention, actually play into the explanation in the end. The acting was good enough to make me believe everyone in the movie. I can also buy the found footage angle, but I did have issues with the effects that were used in the movie. Not enough to ruin it though. The soundtrack fit for what was needed in my opinion as well. There wasn’t any music to my knowledge so it was all ambient noise to fit the realism. I would rate this as a good movie. Not for everyone being found footage, but I’m a sucker for a lot of the concepts that were introduced.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
For this movie we have that there’s a military bunker in the Dyatlov Pass. Holly and Jensen discover it, but the door is frozen solid. They don’t want to tell the rest as Holly was already accused of faking the footprints around their camp. The common thought is that since the government knew they were there, the military set off charges that caused the avalanche that traps them. They seek refuge in the bunker. It is there they make some horrible discoveries.
This movie then ties us into the Philadelphia Experiment. This is supposedly something that made the U.S.S. Eldridge teleport from Norfolk. The crew was fused to the ship is what is said to have happened and it went back slightly in time. This bunker was made over top of what the Mansi natives knew about. There is a wormhole type portal. The government is keeping it a secret hence why they’re trying to kill them and killed the members of the Dyatlov group.
Alya stated there were 2 other hikers that were found. When this group in the present goes into the bunker, they’re attacked by two monstrous human like creatures that can teleport. They cannot teleport through the metal of the doors or the walls, so it keeps them in. They’re bigger than humans and the footprints they saw in the snow are theirs. Holly and Jensen get locked in the cave with the portal.
This is where it blew my mind. They went back into time so the creatures attacking them are them! Alyva saw the two extra hikers were Holly and Jensen from the future and mutated due to the radiation of going through the wormhole. The orange lights weren’t aliens, but flares that both groups shot up when things went south. The last thing is that the natives knew of this portal, maybe not what it did, but they know of its existence.