Rotten Tomatoes

April 23, 2012

Renny Harlin Heads for Dyatlov Pass

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Last time Renny Harlin headed for snow-capped mountains, it was to shoot people and blow shit up in the thick-headed Stallone classic Cliffhanger. He’ll be taking another climbing trip in the near future, but this time it sounds like it won’t be quite so heavy on the bombast, dealing instead with the peculiar mystery of the Dyatlov Pass incident.

It all took place in 1959, when nine hikers on a skiing trip in the Russian Ural mountains were killed in extremely odd circumstances. There were no survivors to explain why, in temperatures around −30°C, the group apparently tore open their tent from the inside, and headed out into the snow in their bare feet.

The bodies, when found, showed no signs of struggle, but significant internal injuries consistent with enormous pressure. One corpse was missing its tongue, and some were found to be highly radioactive. The inquest could only conclude that the nine had been victims of “a compelling unknown force.” The pass is now named after the expedition’s leader, Igor Dyatlov.

Harlin’s film involves five ambitious American students given a grant to investigate the incident and retrace the victims’ journey. This proves to be a mistake, since they’re soon bothered by strange and terrifying phenomena, suggesting that the forces behind the original mystery have been waiting fifty-odd years for a repeat performance. 

Roughly speaking, Renny Harlin’s directing career has generally alternated between action and horror. There’s the aforementioned Cliffhanger, the criminally underrated The Long Kiss Goodnight, last year’s excellent Five Days Of War, and of course, Die Hard 2: Die Harder. But before Bruce Willis there was Freddy Krueger (Harlin directed the fourth Nightmare On Elm Street), and he’s since brought us Mindhunters, The Covenant, and The Exorcist: The Beginning. This trip to the Urals then, is not unprecedented, and won’t necessarily involve anything being exploded.

Last night there was a fun video online – intended for potential investors – showing Harlin being “interrogated” about the film and its missing cast. Sadly, its since been taken down at the behest of production company Aldamisa. In the absence of that though, and of an actual title, there’s still a poster (see below). Shooting is apparently already underway.

 

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