Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Film Review: Devil's Pass (2013)

Devil's Pass (Review)
United Kingdom/Russia/2013
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the film lacks thrills, scares, entertainment and so on."

Led by psychology student Holly King (Holly Goss), five college students travel to the Dyatlov Pass to find out what happened to nine skiers who mysteriously and unexplainably died 50 years prior...

Devil's Pass starts as a mockumentary that quickly turns into a more traditional found-footage horror film. The story follows Holly as she leads Jensen, a pretentious, douchebag film student, Denise, a cardboard audio engineer, and two expert climbers, J. P. and Andy, to the Dyatlov Pass. So, they hike up the rough terrain and talk about the incident -- they speculate, joke around, and so on. Nothing really happens for the first two acts, actually. The story starts to pick up some momentum during the final act, but it's a mess and feels like a completely different movie. It loses all sense of identity along with a useless twist, and throws a plethora of ill-fitted computer graphics to the audience. The ending even starts to drag on a bit.

Devil's Pass starts off with some interesting information about the incident early on. Unfortunately, it doesn't have enough information to fill the first two acts. Instead, you get to several poor attempts at comedy with every other line of dialogue attempting to be "witty" -- it's not. The rest of the dialogue is cliché, ripped out of every other found-footage horror film ever made. Without much story and poorly written dialogue, you really don't have much of a film for the first half. Afterward, the film messes with a plethora of ideas and possible solutions to the "great" mystery -- none of which offer any closure or impact. In fact, it should've been a documentary considering the film lacks thrills, scares, entertainment and so on.

On top of being a boring story, Devil's Pass does nothing to differentiate itself from the other films in the genre. The obligatory "we've got to record everything" discussion, for example, is present. And the douchebag cast of characters are all very familiar. My favorite is the illogical character, though. I mean, why bring two experts if you're going to completely ignore their advice? Why move towards the radiation instead of away? Why open a door that's obviously locked from the outside to keep something in? Curiosity killed the cat, stupidity killed Holly. (not a spoiler.) If you're looking for well-developed or even likable characters, look elsewhere.

The acting is decent for a cast of unknowns; obviously everyone has to start somewhere, it's just surprising to see a solid cast of unknowns work so well together -- not award winning, but worth noting. The special effects are terrible and overused -- this is a cade where it would've been better to show less, especially during the final sequence. Renny Harlin's direction is okay, but he's better than this. The writing is inconsistent and sloppy.

Overall, Devil's Pass is a bad found-footage horror film. The concept is interesting, but the execution is severely flawed. The story is boring, the final act is lost in itself, the characters are annoying and illogical, there is a severe lack of horror and suspense, and the visual effects are bad and unnecessary. Avoid this film, unless your Netflix list is empty; even then, I can probably recommend some better films on Netflix you haven't seen. I mean, Devil's Pass? More like Devil's Ass, right? No? Ok...

Score: 2/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

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