The Dyatlov Pass Incident (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/08/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Well made, atmospheric and superbly acted found footage horror movie that effectively builds tension before a satisfyingly frantic final act, though the central conceit wears a little thin and the film might have been better served with a straight narrative format.

What's it all about?
Directed by Renny Harlin, The Dyatlov Pass Incident begins with Oregon psychology student Holly (Holly Goss) recruiting film student Jenson (Matt Stokoe), sound recordist Denise (Gemma Atkinson) and hiking experts JP (Luke Albright) and Andy (Ryan Hawley) for a trip to the snowy Urals in Russia in order to investigate the real-life Dyatlov Pass Incident, in which nine hikers were killed in mysterious and still unexplained circumstances in 1959. As the group embark on their trip, they debate possible theories from aliens to government conspiracies and abominable snowmen, but none of them are prepared for what they find.

The Good
The performances are excellent, with the group forming a lively dynamic that keeps us engaged even while nothing ostensibly creepy is happening. Goss is particularly good as the driving force of the group, while Stokoe contributes a nice line in scepticism as Jenson and Atkinson gets more to do here than in the eye candy roles she's usually landed with (and nails the American accent to boot), though Albright and Hawley are rather interchangeable as JP and Andy.

Harlin expertly builds suspense as we wait for the inevitable (has there ever been a found footage movie with a happy ending?), exploiting tensions and jealousies within the group as they approach their destination; he also layers in material from the real case, as well as various pieces of information that will be Important For Later (the film rewards close attention to detail). In addition, the film is extremely well shot, with Denis Alarkon-Ramires's cinematography making great use of some spectacular snowy locations.

The Bad
The main problem is that The Dyatlov Pass Incident can't really sustain its found footage conceit all the way through, particularly when the group find themselves in a life-threatening situation where it would be ludicrous to continue filming. At a certain point, this starts to take you out of the film and you can't help wondering if the story would have been better served with a traditional narrative structure. Still, at least the ending is both original and unexpected.

Worth seeing?
The Dyatlov Pass Incident is an engaging and gripping horror flick, enlivened by a strong cast and some atmospheric direction, though the found footage conceit isn't really justified by the story and could probably have been dropped.

Film Trailer

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (15)
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 21:34

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