Sunday, June 26, 2016

Black Mountain Side - A slow burn that's worth the wait

SPOILER FREE as usual.

The other day, I got another "blind Twitter follow" from a man named Nick Szostakiwskyj. I get these a lot. An unspoken, "Oh! You like movies?! I make movies! Check one out, please!" I actually appreciate this. It means folks are making an effort.

So, I checked out his Twitter page and website and they both looked really professional. One of the images on the site drove me to look up the film Black Mountain Side.

Intrigued, I checked out the trailer ( ...which I do not recommend that you do!! Seriously ) and immediately went to Amazon and added it to my watch list for that very night.

Now, let me get the small negatives out of the way right off the bat. There are not many, but they will make some people run around screaming. ::grin::: 

This is a slow, SLOW burn. It's like Carpenter's THE THING with several of the action, pulse pounding scenes removed from the first and second acts. Folks sit and talk and you soak in their conversations as the wonderfully shot film spins along crafting it's story. There were a few moments where I wished they went to the "show, don't tell" mode of film making - it might have helped the pacing a bit. Actually seeing some of the things that are talked about after they happen when the characters regroup here and there might have boosted the energy of the film a bit. 

Based on what I've seen from horror fans, this will make many people crazy. They'll bark at their screens yelping, "THERE'S NOTHING HAAAAAAPPENING!!!!" and will start tearing at their skin like wild animals.
To them I say, "Do us all a favor and don't watch this film. I can't take hearing your commentary on it, honestly. Go watch SAW XXI and be happy."  There IS stuff happening, you just need to listen and work it out without seeing jump scares, things popping out at you, and blood spraying 20 feet in the air.

The only other caveat I have about the film is that things are NOT spelled out for you. If you want that, you won't find it here. There are expanses as wide open as the films bleak and beautiful landscape - again, superbly shot  - in the film. If that makes you crazy, skip it. 

And, that's the end of the negatives. Let's move on to why I really loved this film. 

This is a very THE THING like tale. But, more along the lines of the original book WHO GOES THERE? by John W. Campbell, Jr.. It's a character and story based movie that has moments of shock and horror, not the other way around.

Archaeologists uncover a massive underground structure in Northern, "REALLY OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE" Canada that dates back ten thousand years. The team brings in an expert to bless the find and get them much needed funds to continue their research.  As the find is verified and debated, things start to slowly and steadily break down.

This is another film where it feels like you are reading a book. (In a good way) You're allowed to really sink into the story and character development washes over you as the tale unfolds. There were several moments where I ended up saying things like, "Well...this is bad," out loud to my wife who was next to me on her phone. THAT is another check in the PLUS column for this film.

My wife is NOT a horror fan. She can stand them at times, but more often than not, she stands up and says, "Enjoy your movie - I'm off to bed," and is gone by ten minutes in. However, BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE had her completely invested by the midway point. She was positing theories and wondering what was happening right along with me. Wen the movie ended, we had a very interesting series of conversations about the plot, scenes, and what we thought happened at the films climax. All around the midnight out, two hours after her usual bedtime. She really enjoyed the movie which is saying A LOT. 

Nick Szostakiwskyj nails both the Direction and script. The film looks fantastic and the script is riveting, really. It's one of those film stories that doesn't lay it all out for you, but that you find yourself thinking about long after the film is over. Theories spun through my mind all last night and this morning about the movie.

The cast was fantastic as well. In some of these smaller budget films, the cast stumbles through dialogue as they make an effort to play out an emotional range they are not capable of hitting while choking out lines of memorized dialogue. However, these folks do it effortlessly. They are not only believable as who they are playing, but they manage to deliver some very intricate dialogue to the point where I found myself wondering if they found actual archaeologists that happened to do acting as well. :::grin::: 

 If you're a fan of remote chillers, story, and tales of madness and the supernatural, you really owe it to yourself to fire up BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE, settle in with a whiskey or cup of tea, and let this grand tale wash over you like a warm blanket of creepy! :)  I plan to revisit this film again in the winder months...when it's cold...and dark...

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