The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Film4 Frightfest 2013


In 1959, a crack team of Russian mountaineers went trekking in the northern Ural mountains, at the Dyatlov Pass. These hikers promptly went missing and were later found dead and only partially clothed. Today, still a mystery, a faux-footage film has been made surrounding a student documentary. If you’re interested, and you can find it^, then maybe you can watch… The Dyatlov Pass Incident!

Early on in the film there’s a callback to the movie that made found footage popular – a crying documentary-maker in night vision is very Blair Witch, though thankfully less snotty. But in many ways this is a also a far cry from the low-fi chills of that film; the format may not allow director Renny Harlin to exercise the level of style he brought to snowy environs in Cliffhanger or Die Hard 2, but this being the twenty-teens the cameras are HD and there is far less motion-sickness-inducing shaking than is typical of the subgenre.

The mainly British cast is solid, and the American accents generally decent (compared to, say, Richard Coyle in last year’s Outpost 2). They have a believable dynamic together which helps the tension when things start to go wrong and the direction keeps the viewer engaged through some genuinely unexpected twists.

The Dyatlov Pass Incident is not a film that breaks new ground in its genre, and it won’t be remembered as an all-time classic. But it is entertaining and original, and fun to go back afterwards and theorise over some elements – tell us in the forums! ***1/2

(^ – Pretty easy, most shops have it and it has a rather natty lenticular slipcase)

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