I’ve decided to write about a particular horror film every day until Halloween. I’ve also decided to choose films that are not so well known or have been overlooked. Some will be contemporary, and some will be older. These posts will contain spoilers, so you are warned.
5. Devil’s Pass (2013)
Devil’s Pass is a Russian/British found footage film that speculates on what happened in the Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959. Dyatlov Pass, if you don’t know, was an incident where nine Russian hikers, led by Igor Dyatlov, were found dead in February, 1959 on the eastern slopes of Kholat Syakhl in the Ural Mountains. The strangeness of the incident has created a lot of speculation over time. According to the Russian authorities, six of the hikers were determined to have died of hypothermia, and the other three died from physical trauma. One of them had their skull caved in. Something had made them flee from their campsite with little clothing on. In 2019 the Russian government reopened the case and determined it was an avalanche that killed them, the survivors dying of hypothermia with inadequate protection from the elements. Not that this has stopped the conspiracy theorists…
The film opens with Oregon University psychology student Holly King (Holly Gross) talking to the camera about how she is planning to travel to Russia to explore the area around Dyatlov Pass to find out what really happened there in 1959. Going with her is cameraman (and friend) Jensen Day (Matt Stokoe), audio engineer Denise Evers (Gemma Atkinson), and climbers Andy Thatcher (Ryan Hawley) and J.P. Hauser (Luke Albright). After training in mountain conditions they travel to Russia. The film then cuts to news reports of the five missing American students who seem to have disappeared in the very same region the Dyatlov Pass hikers disappeared. Then it is revealed the Russian government had recovered their camera footage, but were refusing to release it. Hackers manage to retrieve this footage, and so the film then continues with what happened once the five Americans got to Russia.
The group goes to a Russian mental institution to try and talk with the only surviving member of the Dyatlov expedition who had turned back after the first day due to feeling ill. He subsequently had a mental breakdown. The authorities refuse to let them see him, telling them he is dead, but they get a shot of him holding a sign in an upstairs window that says “stay away” in Russian. They then get a lift from Sergei (Nikolay Butenin) who takes them to see his aunt Alya (Nelly Nielsen) who was part of the original search party looking for the Dyatlov Pass hikers. She claims she found another two bodies (making the count 11), one them holding a strange machine, but the military took them.
After the first day of hiking they wake to find two sets of large footprints going round their campsite. What they find strange is there are no prints going in or out. It’s as if they appeared near their campsite walked around it and then disappeared. Several of the group think Holly has been pranking them. Later in the day they find more prints in the snow. They come to a weather tower and find a severed human tongue in it. Holly reveals to Jensen she had a recurring dream as a child of being here and finding a door and on other the side was darkness that swallows her up.
Towards the end of the second day Holly realises they have come to Dyatlov Pass, though for some reason they have arrived much earlier than they should have. Once it gets dark Holly and Jensen take a look around. Holly uses a Geiger counter and finds the radiation is stronger than it should be. It leads them to a bunker door in the mountain that had been covered up by snow. Jensen remarks that it locks from the outside as though it is keeping something in. Early next morning they are awoken to the sound of explosions and an avalanche hits their campsite. Denise is lost under the snow and Andy gets a bad leg fracture. Jensen fires a flare and a short time later two figures appear, but they have no packs. Spooked by them, Holly, Jensen, and J.P. run off. The two figures start shooting and J.P. is hit. They run to the bunker door and manage to open it. Inside is a tunnel.They walk down it until they come to a lab. There they find logbooks of dead Russian soldiers that ends at 1959 and pictures of the USS Eldridge, the ship that was supposedly part of the Philadelphia Experiment, which Jensen explains, involved teleportation and time travel. He says the sailors in that experiment were either fused to the ship or mutated.
Looking for a way out they come into a room where a dead soldier is lying on a table with his tongue missing. In the corner are the bones from dead bodies that are all misshapen. They also come across a camcorder identical to theirs that has all their footage and even footage of their current activities and conversation. Then they are attacked by mutant humanoids who are able to teleport at will. They are chased into a room which they seal shut. In this room is a strange looking tunnel…
What happens next? Do they escape? What is the strange tunnel they’re in? How come there is a camcorder identical to theirs with the same footage? Where did these mutant humanoids come from? Did they work out what happened to the original Dyatlov Pass hikers? Did this movie just get sillier as it went on?
Should you want to see this movie, let me know and I’ll find you a link (if you can’t find one)…
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