BLACK MOUNTAIN (2014)
aka Black Mountain Side
Written and Directed by Nick Szostakiwskyj
A group of scientists, based at an isolated station in Northern Canada, uncover a strange structure in the snow thought to be thousands of years old. Whilst investigating the important historical find, strange things begin to happen in and around camp which becomes a cause for concern for the group. When their supply drop doesn’t arrive and with no-one picking up their radio transmissions, the scientists begin to turn on one another and themselves. Could their ancient discovery be to blame?
If The Shining met The Thing then Nick Szostakiwskyj’s BLACK MOUNTAIN would surely be the warped offspring. Clearly inspired by John Carpenter’s alien horror, with a bit of body horror and Wendigo-cum-Lovecraftian mythology thrown into the mix, this film had all the makings of either becoming a complete rip-off or clever homage. It sits somewhere in the middle as the Kurt Russell wannabes, one by one, fall prey to whatever the hell they’ve unleashed during their excavation.
A slow, plodding start with mumbling characters that all look the same and each lacking an identifiable personality, BLACK MOUNTAIN lacks clarity with which to involve the viewer. It does have a hook though in the form of the strange structure which the team unearth and when their usually functional workforce begins to dismantle from sickness, absenteeism and limb removal, that’s when the real fun begins. The gradual unravel of control and sanity provides on-the-edge viewing as you can almost smell the fear on the research team as they’re forced to confront an enemy they cannot begin to understand. For those remaining, it’s a fight or flight scenario with some disregarding events as isolation sickness whilst others suspect that whatever they’ve uncovered may well be to blame. Stuck in a tight knit community, it’s only a matter of time before the sickness spreads…
BLACK MOUNTAIN has some great ideas. Granted, they’re nothing new having been seen before in other horror films but the way in which they’re brought together here works quite well. Unfortunately, it’s the dialogue and filler bits inbetween that let the film down. As if struggling to tell what each of the characters are saying isn’t bad enough, the scenes just seem to jump from one to another without any real flow. Unlike Carpenter’s The Thing, it’s hard to give a damn for any of the characters in this movie so when we’re presented with a traumatic scenario involving the lives of one of the men, the visual shock quickly wears off. With better characters, script and emotion, this film could have been a striking, modern homage to The Thing yet a film that could stand on its own two feet. There’s so much promise here that it’s a real shame that the rest of the film just isn’t up to scratch.
If ancient beings, frosty research camps and amputations are your bag, then BLACK MOUNTAIN will surely be of interest though the mediocre, stale execution of the bulk of the film will leave viewers a little unsatisfied.