Action Movie Fanatix Review: Dark Mountain

Dark Mountain bannerThey Went Looking For Gold. They Found Something Evil.

Starring: Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, Shelby Stehlin

Director: Tara Anaise

2013 | 82 Minutes

“You think this is going to turn into Blair Witch Project or something?” – Paul Gardner

Here I go again down the found footage road. I really don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. Someday… SOMEDAY I’m going to find a really good found footage movie that develops solid characters, presents an interesting mystery and provides a satisfying conclusion. Dark Mountain is not that movie.

In March of 2011 Kate Wilson, Paul Gardner and Ross Abrams disappeared in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona while looking for the Lost Dutchman Mine. Their documentary footage was the only thing found…

The now standard found footage hallmarks are all here – false/secondary threats, shaky cam, extended shots of black, extreme closeups and an ambiguous ending with little to no explanation. So many negative attributes of this genre and I just keep coming back hoping to find something that I have never really gotten… a truly satisfying movie going experience.

The “mystery” is sort of a mish-mash of a bunch of different science fiction and supernatural ideas. As with just about every other found footage movie, though, there is no answer. Is it a ghost? Is it time travel? Is it aliens? Is it a crazy local? Or some Native Americans? There is no answer… and that is starting to get old with these movies. There’s no reason that there can’t be some sort of answer provided while still giving legitimate reason for the footage needing to be found.

Unlike some found footage films where the characters are almost completely unlikeable, Dark Mountain’s protagonists seem like normal people. They seem like friends who give each other a hard time once in a while. They aren’t too obnoxious. They’re dumb for not heeding any of the warnings they are given but I never found myself wanting any of them to die.

The character of Kate has some sort of filter on her “camera phone” (do we EVER call them that anymore?). All of the footage that is supposedly from her “camera phone” has an old-timey grainy look to it. It’s OK at first but not every single time she decides to use it and especially not when she is filming something that is potentially important to the plot. Don’t make me have to decipher what I am looking at through your dumb Instagram filter.

The poster also ruins the climax of the movie. It literally shows something that happens in the last 5 minutes of the movie. You wouldn’t know that prior to reading this but it’s still a pretty crappy thing to do to your viewers. Imagine if the movie poster for Titanic was Jack floating to the bottom of the ocean. That is what this is like. Then again, there isn’t much else that would look scary on a poster. It’s too bad we so rarely get solid movie poster art anymore because the right artist could probably create something really cool, foreboding and mysterious for this movie rather than just giving us a shot of the end of the movie. Heck, the logo from the movie’s website would have made for a perfectly acceptable, if not slightly boring, poster.

It might sound like I hated Dark Mountain or that I am completely ripping the movie apart. I’m more ripping the genre that I want so desperately to love. I keep giving the genre more and more chances and it keeps stepping in the exact same foot prints that every found footage movie has walked before.

Dark Mountain is a fine found footage film. It certainly isn’t breaking any boundaries but it spells out the standard formula adequately. Would I watch it again? No. There’s just no reason to. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth the first viewing.

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