12th Feb2018

‘Dark Mountain’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jamie Bernadette, Katie Carpenter, Gema Calero, Karishma Lakhani, Sharron Calvin | Written and Directed by Lou Simon


Writer/director Lou Simon has made quite a name for herself in the horror community within what is, at least in cinematic terms, a very short space of time. Her 2012 feature HazMat sold in record time and her last film, Agoraphobia – starring horror icon Tony Todd and Sharknado’s Cassie Scerbo – recieved decent (if mixed) reviews. Not one to rest of her laurels, Simon returns to the genre, not only writing and directing but also producing survival horror Dark Mountain.

Taking charge of your career can be a blessing and a curse for filmmakers. On the one hand, having total control of your film as writer, director and producer allows you to bring your vision wholly to the screen without falling foul of other people’s opinions. But on the other hand… What if said vision needed someone to reign back the crazy ideas? A second opinion can sometimes be a great benefit.

Case in point, Dark Mountain.

Looking at Simon’s latest feature one could be mistaken for thinking this is the debut for her as a filmmaker not, as is actually the case, her fourth directorial outing. Why? Because it would seem the Simon has lost all of the skills and panache she demonstrated with her previous features, here presenting a film that looks as dull as it’s plot. And that’s despite the odd Evil Dead-inspired flourishes. And by flourishes I mean rip-off. And by Evil Dead, I mean the hillside is filled with evil; evil that commands trees to tear folks limb from limb a la the infamous “tree r*pe” scene from Sam Raimi’s film… Yeah, not that much originality here, which is a shame given director Simon’s existing body of work, which at least had SOME original ideas strewn amongst the familiarity.

For those still intrigued by Dark Mountain, the film tells the story of a group of childhood friends trying to rekindle their friendship during a weekend in the mountains. Soon the women get lost… Alone and hungry, they must battle the elements, each other, and an unforeseen force that is determined to stop them from leaving their mountain retreat.

To be fair, Dark Mountain starts out well – well, if you count an eerie pre-credits sequence as part of the film. It’s pretty much all downhill from there. As soon as we we meet the central cast, a group of irritating and unlikeable women who are suposedly “friends” but act like bitches to each other from the get-go, Simon’s film falls apart. Mainly thanks to the cliche-riddled script and the stitled delivery of the cast in the early scenes.

There are also some interesting attempts at gore, though these are often ruined by over-reliance on CG and some godawful cutaways at key points – its like the budget only extended to a few seconds of computer-generated gore per kill so Simon had to rely on sound design alone, and it just doesn’t work sadly. Even when I thought we were in for a delightful beheading towards the end of Dark Mountain, the film cuts away to views around the woods as we hear the slicing of a saw through bone instead of ACTUALLY SEEING IT. Seriously, If you’re going to make a mundane, monotonous horror film at least pile on the gore when needed instead of just teasing the audience!

Its hard to see the appeal of Dark Mountain. There’s zero originality; no excitement; the cast are wooden and the script makes them even more so. In fact this film has very little to recommend it at all. Maybe if you’re a horror fan that enjoys masochistically torturing themselves by watching the unwatchable? Even then there are better bad movies with which to do so…

Dark Mountain is out now on DVD from High Fliers Films.


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