Black Mountain Side (1 hr 39 mins)
The unknown and isolation takes center stage in Black Mountain Side, the closing film for The Blood In The Snow Festival. A team of field researchers are on the site of a breakthrough and mysterious archeological find that has the potential to turn history on its ear. When a professor joins them to figure out the where and why of the ancient structure they are excavating, the mystery gets even more confusing as the men start to become increasingly ill and mentally unstable. In the ensuing days, the team unravels and their isolation feeds an unknown terrifying menace that blurs the lines of reality.
I have to say this was my favourite film of the festival. While it was a definite nod to horror films centered around isolated locations like The Thing, The Shining and even perhaps Alien, it had its own unique feel, most notably the lack of a soundtrack or scoring. The opening scene of breathtaking beauty in the snow-covered wilderness was ominous enough, without any musical interpretation. Cutting from interior, dialogued scenes to the silent, frozen exteriors subtly built tension as we watched the countdown to the characters’ descent into madness and murder. The story also had a bizarre twist that defies any creature feature out there and will definitely stay with you long after the movie ends.
The cast really blew me away with their realistic portrayal of men losing touch with reality. They were rough around the edges which added to their growing paranoia as nips grew to throat-crushing bites within their almost feral pack. Most notable were Carl Toftfelt as Francis who gave me goose bumps as he struggled to keep sane, Michael Dickson as Professor Peter Olsen who was the only tether to reason and logic, and Marc Anthony Williams’ wild west demeanour that would culminate in one incredible continuously shot sequence.
In attendance at the screening was executive producer Samantha McDonald, and Michael Dickson. McDonald told the audience that the inspiration for the film came from a nightmare writer and director Nick Szostakiwskyj had, and he was also influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter’s The Thing. They filmed in Lumby, British Columbia and the 35 cast and crew members actually lived in the cabins seen in the film. She also revealed that the lack of music in the film was deliberate since they wanted the audience to be in the action with the characters. Szostakiwskyj also wrote with real research in mind. He wanted the science to be accurate and the mythology behind the film believable. Dickson recounted tense moments with one time use prosthetics and a real axe (eek!), but it all came together in the end.
Black Mountain Side, winner of a Best Cinematography Bloodies Award at the festival, offers a clean and beautiful low-budget thriller/horror that takes you to weird world of myth and madness you won’t soon forget.