Dark Mountain (2013/DVD/MVD) Review

Found footage is hardly my favorite horror sub-genre, and I feel that it’s best to get this out of the way before I jump into the review. Most filmmakers are content to use the style as a lame gimmick, and while occasionally you get something with substance and imagination, the bottom of the barrel seems to be the go-to place for cheap thrills. Nevertheless, I try to approach these films with as open a mind as I can manage, because that’s just how I do things. So here we have a more recent addition to the craze titled DARK MOUNTAIN. The premise is intriguing, but do the filmmakers do it justice, and does it transcend its sub-genre trappings? Let us begin the autopsy and find out.

Somewhere in the Superstition Mountains (located in Arizona) there is The Lost Dutchman Mine, supposedly one of the most famous gold mines in the world. Many have explored the mountains far and wide looking for it, and many have also failed to return. This of course lends a particular mystique to the area, and while locals will try to convince curious tourists to turn around and never look back, it has nevertheless become something of a local cultural icon.
Sometime during March of 2011, so we are told, a trio of Los Angeles socialites (erm, filmmakers) set out to find the mine and maybe even unravel the mystery surrounding it. For just a little under 80 minutes, we follow the group’s exploits – the genuine curiosity, the laughs, and of course the seriously weird shit that shall inevitably go down as they chase down a legend that probably should have gone undisturbed.
…And that’s really all there is to it. DARK MOUNTAIN doesn’t have too many surprises up its sleeve, in fact I’d make an argument that it lacks any at all, and essentially it’s one of those movies wherein everything you think is going to happen eventually happens. Save for some kind of explanation/deeper exploration of the paranormal going-ons, an area that goes overlooked here by the filmmakers. When the film ends, it just ends, and that’s that. I’m a fan of ambiguity when there are poignant suggestions related to the characters or plot, but unfortunately there’s nothing to suggest in this particular case.’
And lack of imagination isn’t the only fatal flaw. We’re stuck with three obnoxious, thoroughly boring and one-dimensional characters for a whole feature; all of whom, like the film itself, overstay their welcome. There’s no real chemistry within the group, which is no good since their banter takes up a considerable portion of the run-time, and instead all that chitter-chatter just feels like a lazy way to fill in the requirements given the length. But once you’ve hit a certain point with this thing, that realization will not be the least bit surprising.
If anything, DARK MOUNTAIN is proof that not everyone with a decent camera should be able to use it on a daily basis. This feels like a student film or worse, what with the unjustified “experimental” editing and incredibly derivative script on top of everything else I’ve just mentioned. I don’t consider myself to be a tough critic in the slightest, but there was genuinely nothing that I can really say I liked about this film. It’s clear from the get-go that little effort went into this one, so why should I make any sort of attempt to find merit in a sea of shit? Easily the weakest found footage feature I have seen up until now – and I am sure there is worse out there, but I’m not curious to unearth such horrors. The DVD is fine and comes with some extended versions of interviews that were conducted (and then hacked up, for no apparent reason) throughout the film but honestly it would be rather mean-spirited of me to recommend this to anyone. 

-Ryan Marshall

Director: Tara Anaise
Lead Actor/Actress: N/A
Genre: Horror
Blu-ray Release Year: 2014
Theatrical Release Year: 2013
Time Length: 81 mins.
Rating: NR
Region Code: 0
Release Company:  MVD