You can count the great SyFy TV movies on one hand, such is the rare event those are. Most of the time, they follow a simple story formula, are made on a low budget, have awkward acting and horrid CGI.
Most of us know what we’re getting when we see SyFy on the title card but every so often, a surprise is thrown out. A movie that tries hard, tells a different story and satisfies from beginning to end.
This is not Killer Mountain sadly. Instead, here we get a box-ticking SyFy original slice of trash. A dangerous or forbidden location. A lead who is coming out of retirement to help, encouraged to rescue their ex/estranged partner. A rich benefactor who claims he is doing things for good but has ulterior motives and of course, a monster.
Ward Donovan (Aaron Douglas) is a retired mountain climber. One of the best in the world, of course. He is asked to come out of retirement to climb the forbidden mountain of Gangkhar Puensum. The man doing the asking is the rich Barton (Andrew Airlie) and he wants Ward to take on this seemingly impossible task as his previous expedition team has gone missing.
Naturally Ward refuses; pointing out the difficulty, the local’s refusal to allow it and his own retirement. Of course, he is easily talked into it by Barton revealing that the missing expedition includes Ward’s ex, Kate (Emmanuelle Vaugier).
Along with a team that includes Chance (Torrance Coombs), Dr. Nina (Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe) and Barton’s son, Tyler (Paul Campbell) Ward begins the arduous climb up the mountain. Find the missing team and get back down, simple enough? It should be if it wasn’t for the monsters that live within the mountain. Will they be able to survive Gangkhar Puensum and what is Barton’s real reason for sending teams up there?
Killer Mountain stretches the believability of its plot by some length and strangely enough, it’s not the monsters that do that. We can totally believe that these monsters exist on the mountain and have adequate food supply to survive. What isn’t so easy to believe is the fact that the characters are even on a mountain. From the fake snow to the lack of adequate clothing for such a climb to the wall climbing scene that has no-one moving an inch to the ease in which certain characters get up and down later in the film. When you can’t buy into the actual location, the most important part of this movie, how are you supposed to buy into anything else?
The story moves at blasé pace and the characters are barely defined. At the end of the movie, it still isn’t clear just what Ward and Kate’s relationship is. Ex-girlfriend/boyfriend? Ex-husband/wife? It doesn’t matter really but it seems like such a basic thing to make clear about your two main characters. That lack of definition extends to the wider and less important characters too making their deaths lack even the tiniest degree of impact. Again, not that it matters, as you can easily predict who is going to survive their brush with the beasties.
Talking of which, these monsters are very uninspired and look like a cross between a salamander and dinosaur. With some extra appendages and several eyes. The design of them is poor but the CGI is worse. That we see several in broad daylight too, does little to help this.
Having sleep-walked its way towards the finale, Killer Mountain ends in lacklustre fashion. Introducing some human villains to extend the runtime for absolutely no reason. The movie had the perfect end point and then chooses to go on for another 10 minutes. No thanks.
Killer Mountain (2011)
The Final Score - 5/10