The Dyatlov Pass Incident was made into a nightmare found-footage story by this film1.(With Time Travel!)

The iconic unsolved mystery didn’t appear on television or film until 50 years later(With Time Travel).
With Time Travel
  • In Devil’s Pass, Dirctor Renny Harlin transforms a puzzling real-life mystery into a contemporary horror adventure by injecting it with his signature sense of humour and energy.
  • The movie deftly raises anxiety through unsettling revelations and explores the effects of characters interfering with something they don’t fully understand.
  • Even though the creature effects in the bunker sequence might be mediocre, the time-traveling plot twist makes the story more interesting and provides a satisfying resolution.
Over the years, Renny Harlin has built up quite a reputation in Hollywood. He has succeeded in everything, including legendary bombs and mega-hits. Action movie enthusiasts continue to love Die Hard 2, Cutthroat Island is still regarded as one of the worst flops of all time, and despite its ridiculousness, Deep Blue Sea is hailed as one of the best shark films since Jaws.Despite frequently losing himself in overambition, he has always brought a sense of humour to his work, creating films with the wide-eyed, childlike glee that you would expect for from any artist. When viewed objectively, everyone can see that he frequently claims his performers are the best available, his effects are the most lifelike, and his tales are the most riveting. The man knows how to entertain an audience, making him a wonderful candidate to transform Russia’s most famed unsolved case into a contemporary horror adventure. He may not be the guy you turn to when searching for scientifically precise or logically sound movies, but he does know how to delight an audience.

What Is the Incident at Dyatlov Pass?

Unquestionably one of history’s most puzzling unresolved mysteries is the Dyatlov Pass Incident. Since 1959, researchers and amateur sleuths have pondered what transpired to a group of young Russian hikers who vanished after leaving for the Ural Mountains. Nothing made sense when their bodies were found. These seasoned campers appeared to have torn their tent open from the inside before escaping into the night while only half clad and facing imminent death in the bitter cold.They had suffered severe wounds, some of them without tongues and eyes, and some of them were radioactive. The “compelling natural force” was the best answer Russian officials could come up with, but this just served to stoke conspiracy rumours. The Dyatlov Pass tragedy was the ideal plot point for a horror film since it had layers upon layers of mystery. The absurd thing is that no one did that for more than 50 years. Here comes Renny Harlin.

He approached this intriguing idea with his customary enthusiasm, rounding up a team and a cast that was primarily British, and travelling to the Russian mountains to shoot on location. In the DVD behind-the-scenes brief, Harlin is shown scurrying around in the snow, checking over storyboards with great attention, and getting to work on developing his vision and communicating it to his team. While Devil’s Pass doesn’t exactly distinguish out visually or narratively from its many found footage horror counterparts, it takes the best that the subgenre has to offer and applies it to a desolate and fascinating backdrop. He wants to get innovative and push limits with his work.

What Is the Subject of ‘Devil’s Pass’?

A grant from her institution has been given to Holly (Holly Goss), a documentary student who plans to duplicate the Dyatlov Pass trip and attempt to explain the unexplainable. As she prepares to venture into the unknown, she gathers her friend and fellow filmmaker Jenson (Matt Stokoe), the seasoned hikers Andy (Ryan Hawley) and JP (Luke Albright), and audio technician Denise (Gemma Atkinson). This is Holly’s passion; she describes a childhood vision she had about the Ural Mountains and how it sparked her interest in the Dyatlov gang. Holly is determined to make an excellent movie and uncover the truth.But as soon as they venture into this icy wilderness, odd occurrences begin to occur: outside their tents, they discover enormous footprints that lead nowhere; their GPS and compass become confused; they reach their objective far sooner than they should; and they hear strange voices.

The mystery deepens when Jenson admits to Holly that the sounds remind him of a nasty acid trip he previously had. She admits that a door leading into darkness appeared on the mountainside in her dream. The two sneak away to look around, and sure enough, they come to a door. When it appears as though they are on to something, some unknown charges cause an avalanche that kills Denise and renders Andy helpless. The remaining crew is forced to enter the door and pray that whatever is beyond it will keep them safe for the time being as things swiftly go wrong.

The Heart of ‘Devil’s Pass’ Is Tension

An enticing number of the “oh shit!” moments that make horror such an exciting genre, those moments that catch your breath or make your stomach plummet, are peppered throughout the film. The first is the finding of the door on the mountaintop, which, despite Holly’s foreboding, never feels like a genuine possibility until it’s there in front of them. It’s so incredibly ludicrous and menacing.There is an inherent tension in people visiting locations that they aren’t supposed to be in, especially if there is military or government participation, as other excellent found-footage horrors like Area 51 demonstrate. The characters are getting involved in matters way above their pay grade, which exposes them to a variety of physical dangers. The best-case scenario is detention or simple execution on the spot, while the worst-case scenario is the discovery of some top-secret invention that could mean the end of more than just the main characters.

When writing Devil’s Pass’ final act, Harlin truly takes advantage of this. The entrance opens up to a maze-like military bunker that has obviously been abandoned for a while but is still littered with paperwork, gear, and even strangely twisted corpses. Another fantastic “oh shit!” scene occurs in the third act as two hooded people approach the group in the snow. Andy, who is lying wounded on the ground, deduces that whomever these individuals are, they arrived too quickly to be genuine rescuers and must have more sinister intentions.They rush desperately between attempting to aid their fallen colleague and ultimately fleeing for their life as he exhorts them to run and leave him behind. These hooded individuals are unidentifiable due to Harlin’s clever use of distance between them and the characters and the camera. They are simply two dark figures moving through the never-ending white countryside. The audience is made to feel the same rush of dread and confusion as the protagonists because to the chillingly unsettling visual doubt that has been created.

The discovery of humanoid monsters hiding in the bunker’s shadowy depths is the single scene that the film fails to deliver on. They are the same type of humanoid monster that has appeared in several horror films, including The Descent and Blair Witch. That’s not quite accurate, though, because these can teleport! The scene gradually degenerates into cheap-looking junk that curiously reminds one of old video games as these creatures begin appearing everywhere and chasing towards our remaining characters, especially because it was shot in night-vision mode.The poor CGI creature effects feel a little stupid and lacklustre after such an excellent buildup of mystery and dread. Thankfully, the sequence doesn’t drag on for too long and really advances the plot because the main plot element is about to appear.

What Is the ‘Devil’s Pass’ Time Travel Subplot?

After one of the creatures kills J.P., Jensen and Holly discover a wormhole and begin to analyse how and why it might operate and whether it would be able to free them from the bunker. However, it’s an intriguing twist that calls to mind the good old urban legends of military experimentation and its endless possibilities, like those explored in Apollo 18, the aforementioned Area 51, and The Philadelphia Experiment. In typical horror style, this leads to many perplexing assumptions and dubious decisions.A common argument holds that the Dyatlov group accidentally came into some form of top-secret government work or was approached by the military, making this revelation a cool and not altogether absurd explanation for all the crazy. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to broaden the terrifying scope of the story’s setting: yetis, UFOs, and the Russian military are one thing, but now that time travel is a reality, isn’t it the only hope for escaping this terrible circumstance? The protagonists are completely outclassed by the scope of the situation, and the weighty ramifications of their revelation are oppressive.

The movie’s decisive coup de grâce comes right at the very end. The decisions that lead up to it might be a little silly, and they might not even make much sense at all, but the ending is the final, brilliant “oh shit!” moment in which not everything but most stuff comes together, and some subtle foreshadowing from the movie’s beginning comes to a shocking conclusion. Holly and Jenson decide to take the leap while imagining their final destination; rather than going to their house, the closest airport, or just about anywhere reasonably civilised, they choose to head for the door’s outside because that is the place that is most recent in their minds.The movie’s decisive coup de grâce comes right at the very end. The decisions that lead up to it might be a little silly, and they might not even make much sense at all, but the ending is the final, brilliant “oh shit!” moment in which not everything but most stuff comes together, and some subtle foreshadowing from the movie’s beginning comes to a shocking conclusion. Holly and Jenson decide to take the leap while imagining their final destination; rather than going to their house, the closest airport, or just about anywhere reasonably civilised, they choose to head for the door’s outside because that is the place that is most recent in their minds.

The use of time travel as a plot element reaches its zenith here, with the characters coming to a profoundly gloomy finale that seems to cement their fates and bring the story full circle to a terrible historical riddle. Additionally, it provides credit where credit is due for the camera and the utilisation of the found footage format. By the end, the camera itself takes on a personality in this strange situation and plays an important role for even the minor characters.In addition to literally telling us the plot, it also serves as a type of MacGuffin that makes the entire movie possible. Although it doesn’t exactly shatter the fourth wall, it does make the audience more convinced that this is real life and not a work of fiction. The ending of the film strongly validates the use of found video and makes highly intriguing use of it, despite the misuse of camera glitches to hide continuity errors and the visual storytelling’s lack of innovation in the rest of the film.

Don’t walk into Devil’s Pass expecting a recounting of the Dyatlov Pass incident or a very thought-provoking analysis of this gripping sequence of events. The true event serves more as a framing device for a contemporary horror film, but it nevertheless creates a genuinely eerie atmosphere that fits nicely with a found footage movie from the 2010s.The characters find themselves in a situation where they are at the whim of a lot of things that are far greater and more powerful than them, between the endlessly icy location of the Ural Mountains where there is no safety net and that traditional threat of Soviet government involvement. A good expedition found footage horror wants the characters to be uncomfortable and to experience an emotional arc from security and assurance to total powerlessness. It’s intriguing, occasionally downright spooky, and begs further questions. And Renny Harlin adds his distinctive sense of adventure to it, making for a highly interesting viewing.

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