While many horror fans are growing tired of the found footage genre, I still find it entertaining for the most part. Granted, there are tons of titles out there now in a wide variety of horror subgenres…however, I still believe many of them have merit when they strive to be more than just a simple BLAIR WITCH PROJECT rehash. DARK MOUNTAIN is a recent release found footage film from the fine folks at MVD, and while it is not perfect, it is still an entertaining jaunt into familiar territory.
If you are not familiar with DARK MOUNTAIN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Entertainment:
Somewhere deep within Arizona’s Superstition Mountains lies the most famous lost gold mine in the world–the Lost Dutchman Mine. Its estimated worth is around 200 million dollars. Since the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of people have scoured the mountains in search of it, hundreds have lost their lives in the process, but not one has returned with an ounce of gold. Legend has it the mine is cursed. In March of 2011, three Los Angeles filmmakers set out to find the mine and document their entire search. They never made it out of the Superstitions. Eight months later, their camera and cell phones were recovered along the western edge of LaBarge Canyon. No sign of the filmmakers themselves has been found to date. Dark Mountain is the chilling reconstruction of their last days. Inspired by actual events.
I was intrigued by this film from the start, primarily because I’m a big fan of historical mysteries, especially those dealing with treasure. Nothing piques my imagination more than trying to discern the circumstances around missing gold or lost civilizations. Thus, this film is right up my alley.
DARK MOUNTAIN is shot in standard first-person POV, just as most found footage films are. In this regard, the film introduces nothing new. Some of the scenes are calm and steady, while other shots are shaky and almost too chaotic to make out what’s happening. I can handle both, although a steadier camera goes a long way in my book.
The acting is ok, above average for films like this, however I will say there are no real standout performances. The cast is likable enough for the most part, yet we never get enough of their backstory to be fully invested with them. This isn’t necessarily a negative, as the movie is just fine without knowing where they come from…but I do feel it worth mentioning.
DARK MOUNTAIN really doesn’t have many special effects of note, but we do get some blood and some interesting lighting effects (I will not say more about the lighting effects because they are an integral part of the story later on). Like BLAIR WITCH, the story is the focus here, not gore or fx.
And speaking of the story, DARK MOUNTAIN does have an interesting premise. After all, who hasn’t fantasized about finding treasure at one point or another? Not to mention the thrill of discovery. There are several factors that play in here, and they are all basically primal in nature. This is a big part of what makes the film work for me.
But even though it’s a fun film, DARK MOUNTAIN does have some flaws. First and foremost is how much it feels like BLAIR WITCH. The way its filmed, the set up of the plot, and even the characters (one pushy, strong-headed girl and her two male cohorts). It all screams TBWP. Again, this is not necessarily a flaw to me, but I know it will turn off many horror viewers immediately.
Also, I don’t like the lack of resolution or explanation at the end. I’m pretty sure I know where the filmmaker was trying to go…however it’s never fully fleshed out enough to make it there. Vague endings don’t usually ruin a movie for me, as long as they are calculated and well done; unfortunately, it does not work here for me.
Still, I will not dismiss DARK MOUNTAIN as an unwatchable film. On the contrary, actually. It’s a well-made picture overall, and it’s entertaining if you like found footage films. I enjoyed it, and I recommend it to anyone who likes the genre. The film is available now if you want to check it out.