Playing upon people’s fears of claustrophobia and albino mutants, Devil’s Pass uses a combination of traditional camerawork mixed with found-footage to create a fairly decent picture courtesy of the man who gave the world Die Hard 2, Renny Harlin. As far as horror films go, it is not the scariest one to be found, but by building up the tension and suspense, the film manages to grab you that way and keeps you locked in even though little happens for the bulk of the film.
With a script by Vikram Weet, the film finds a group of young explorers and documentary makers who decide to follow in the exact same footsteps of an ill-fated expedition in Russia known as the Dyatlov Pass incident. Of course when everyone is slain under suspicious circumstances during that incident it creates an air of mystery that these filmmakers cannot resist. The fact that all but one person was killed and the last has been locked in a mental hospital for the last fifty years would deter most people, but they will not be deterred and so find themselves in Russia encountering a little resistance, but essentially doing what they set out to do. It is only when strange occurrences start taking place that they realize they may have made a mistake in coming here.
Blending elements of science-fiction and horror, the film does a great job at trying to scare the viewer once things really start happening. It is a little clichéd pulling elements from all sorts of films like the underground Russian bunker that only locks from the outside, the strange mutant-like creatures, and the mysterious footsteps in the snow that appeared from nowhere and so on. Everything in this film you have seen before and have done so multiple times over and most likely will do so again. The only thing really going for this film is that it is made well and it builds upon each moment until its final payoff. That in itself is interesting and a little unexpected. Really, there was no promise of it and you definitely did not see it coming which made it a bit better when it appeared. So while it might have come out of left field, it added to the picture instead of taking away from it.
Ultimately, the film is worth watching for fans of the genre and though it might not be completely original, it still manages to weave a captivating spell. The cast which includes Gemma Atkinson, Matt Stokoe and Holly Goss do a fine job of it and it is their performances coupled with the great cinematography of Denis Alarcon Ramirez that really makes the cold and unforgiving mountain locales come alive. In fact, it is the pairing of human frailty up against the harsh mistress that is Mother Nature that is more frightening than anything else the picture provides. All in all, the film wins out, not by a lot, but still a win.