The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Also known as Devil’s Pass) is a found-footage horror based around the mysterious, unsolved death of nine hikers in the Ural Mountains on February 2nd, 1959.
A group of experienced hikers, they camped for the night on the slopes of Kholat Syakhl when something happened. Something that caused so much panic & fear that they tore through their tents & ran into the night while inadequately dressed.
Investigations found that six had died from hypothermia & the others from physical trauma. Those three deaths are the most disturbing as they include one team member with missing eyes & a tongue.
Several theories have been put forward with compelling evidence both for & against each. Were the deaths caused by an avalanche? What about the theory surrounding the wind creating infrasound strong enough to induce panic attacks? Were the Soviet Union military involved?
It’s a fascinating case, one that could make a great film. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is not that film.
The movie opens showing Russian news footage about five college students who have all disappeared while investigating The Dyatlov Pass incident. Details are sketchy until the Russian government recovers the camera footage used by the students. They refuse to release it publicly but ‘hackers’ get hold of it somehow & release it.
This footage is what makes up the remainder of the film.
The film fails early on by introducing characters that couldn’t light up a screen even if they had lightbulbs shoved up their behinds. A forgettable group of nobodies, their interactions are painful. Their attempt to make it seem as though they are filming a documentary falls flat with the group falling apart far too quickly.
As per usual when it comes to a story like this, they try to find out more but meet a lot of resistance & denials. This leads them to head out to the area in which the original camp was set up. That night they hear howling & in the morning discover footprints that have no starting point around their tents.
Some of the group get freaked out & accuse the expedition leader of faking it but the closer they get to the pass, the stranger things get. This all leads to the discovery of a hidden bunker built into the mountain. One with a door that only opens from the outside. What is in there and is it responsible for the Dyatlov Pass incident?
There is a lot of mystery & intrigue surrounding the bunker. You’re imagination will run wild with the possibilities & then die when you actually see what resides inside. The reveal, one that comes far too early is so disappointing & made up of embarrassingly bad CGI.
The whole absurdity of the reveal wouldn’t be so bad if it actually tried to clarify some of the bigger questions that remain by time the credits roll. You can’t help but think that there was a little too much back-patting regarding the reveal. While you can admire the off-kilter idea that the movie goes with, it’s just not handled well.
Being a found-footage movie, you can expect the usual documentary style filming with added shaky camera work & a lot of peering into darkness. The final 20 minutes or so of the movie are near unwatchable because of the darkness. Whatever early goodwill the movie builds with the anticipation of the incident & the bunker is completely lost with a shockingly lacklustre finale.
That might not be such a harsh criticism if the journey leading to it had been stellar…but it’s not.
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The Dyatlov Pass Incident