Three documentary filmmakers and gold hunters hitchhike to the remote Superstition Mountains of Arizona. The Lost Dutchman mine is their destination goal and all the long the way they film their experience until they disappeared and only the footage remained. The mountain have claimed many before them, will the mountain claim more unsuspecting treasure seekers?
“Dark Mountain” claims to be a found footage experience that displays paranormal activities based on true events. Alien green lights, cave ghosts, and internal madness are all attributed to the Superstition Mountains. This is also the film’s downfall as too much is attributed to make Superstition Mountain a mystery all the way to the credits. The backstory about the Apache being the root cause of the disappearances would have been a more likely and just that more interesting because, really, when is the last time you’ve seen killer Apaches in modern times? Claustrophobia seems to be the new fad in the horror genre with films like “So Above, As Below,” “Day of the Mummy” (), and the upcoming Alexandre Aja produced film The Pyramid where a group of explorers become trapped, entombed and doomed by a supernatural force. These films are no cult hits like “The Descent” but the fear of the walls closing in and a force looming closer to you has taken charge and is on the rise of terror. “Dark Mountain” dabbles in that a little with the cave exploration sharing the terror that a night vision should ensue into the audience.
First time director Tara Anaise’s style is purely audible and that’s not a bad thing. The film progresses through sounds: locusts, thrash metal, and the sounds of the desert. The three hitchhikers played by Sage Howard, Andrew Simpson, and Shelby Stehlin do a fairly convincible job being lost, confused, and afraid tourists. However, the characters carry unrealistic characteristics which could also be contributed to the film crew’s inexperience. For one, if weird shit happens around one in the first instance, you get the hell out of dodge. Secondly, nobody’s cell phone and handheld camera has a battery life of five days and that is what happens here. Lastly, and this one is more bittersweet than the rest, Sage Howard scopes the land in her booty jorts amongst deadly rattle snakes and prickly surrounding cacti.
“Dark Mountain” from, uh, Dark Mountain Studios, Superstitious Films, and released by MVD can certainly be engaging and entertaining, but this story ends too abruptly leaving a sour taste. The accounts stay mysterious and the real knowledge of what malevolence goes untold. I’m sure that’s the film’s supposed charm, but even “Paranormal Activity” had a revelation, even “Blair Witch Project” had solid back story and so comes “Dark Mountain” whose heights has no limits.
Too few and far in between does a current release for a horror film about mummies comes out. Right off the top of my head, I can only recall Universal’s remake of The Mummy trilogy and Sands of Oblivion. I’m sure if I really thought more about this I could come up with one or two more films about mummies. When I was contacted to screen and review “Day of the Mummy,” a little piece of me couldn’t wait because the mummy genre is the neglected red-headed step child that the public doesn’t like and production companies just don’t know how to market Egyptian crypt keepers. Exploring “Day of the Mummy” was exciting at first but my finds remind me again why being dead, wrapped in bandages, and buried in an ancient tomb can’t catch a break in cinema land.
Well-experienced and notorious Egyptologist Jack Wells is contracted to joins a group of archeologist in a Egyptian desert where a hidden tomb of an infamous and cursed king named Neferu is supposedly buried. Jack’s intentions are not to locate the tomb, but rather recover the Codix Stone that was buried with Neferu. When the team locates the cavernous tomb, a collapse of the cave’s structure traps them inside a tomb that doesn’t exactly hold a dead, mummified King. Their search brings them face to face with undead King seeking human parts to devour and regain strength. Now their only hope for survival lies in the hands of the treasure hunter Jack Wells.
“Day of the Mummy” big named actor attached to the project is Danny Glover. Now, Glover isn’t the Indiana Jones type Jack Wells. His character Carl is a wealthy collector of the finer things and hires Jack, played by William McNamara, to bring back the Codex Stone for him. Glover’s role is a bit odd as he only interacts with Jack through a technology advance pair of wearing glasses that has built-in microphone, video camera, and satellite reception. I’ve known the Lethal Weapon and Predator 2 actor to be more of an interactive professional with other actors and actress around him. For Glover to play an isolated role with no one else in a scene with him takes his stardom away from the movie. He might have been better being the lead character of Jack Wells.
Speaking of the hidden video camera glasses, the film’s perspective majority plays through the eyes Jack Wells. The effect comes off like an adventurous amusement park ride rather than a found footage film where the you explore a cave and strap into a hydraulic seat and give whipped around while a movie screen plays through the action. Part of the adventure amusement park ride feel is due to Carl’s in-screen image that pops up inquiring about the diamond every so often. The only thing missing from this ‘ride’ is the 4-D effects. Now, this perspective makes the film naturally unique, but also takes a bit of maturity out of the plot. Yeah, the film profane dialogue tries to spark life into, but the first person effect can be more effective if a more grotesque view of events comes across one’s sights.
The sophomore film of director Johnny Tabor deserves to be recognized as a fair attempt at a genre that doesn’t spark any life into audiences. One thing that would have helped would have been to fill in the plot holes. The reason the team of archeologists venture to Neferu’s tomb was the result of a recovered video of another archeologist who found the tomb before them. The question is, how did the video get recovered in the first place once the first archeologist disappeared? How is Carl’s satellite feed still working in a sealed cave? Questions like these are annoying and baffling even if the logic is skewed just for the sake of a interesting story.
Along with Glover and McNamara, the cast rounds out with “The Black Water Vampire’s” Andrea Monier, Brandon DeSpain, and Robin Steffen, and along with Eric Young and Michael Cortez. A fine cast with loads of talent behind them, but Tabor’s mummy film entry lives up to others in which fall short of horrifying and thrilling. The hopes of fresh air are stiffened with mummified rotting remains of the past. The perspective is unique and welcomed, but could be fine tuned sieze an opportunity to scare the pants off audiences. The wait continues for a mummy movie to resurrect the floundering, most likely currently defunct, genre. “Day of the Mummy” is an interesting and entertaining ride non-the-less. Image Entertainment’s release hits retail shelves October 20th on DVD in the UK.