M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on August 23, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!

DEVIL’S PASS (2013)

aka DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT
Directed by Renny Harlin
Written by Vikram Weet
Starring Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright, Ryan Hawley, Gemma Atkinson
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

These days, most horror fans wish found footage films were never found, and with the inundation of these cheaply made films in the past few years, I understand the sentiment. Still, a good movie is a good movie, found footage or not, and a likable cast and some pretty gripping moments of horror and suspense make DEVIL’S PASS, formerly known as THE DYATLOV PASS INCIDENT, footage you might find interesting.

Directed by CLIFFHANGER, DIE HARD 2, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 director Renny Harlin, one might think a director of this caliber would shy away from filmmaking often reserved for first time and amateur filmmakers. While THE BAY proved to be somewhat of a disappointment despite the fact that it was directed by an established director like Barry Levinson behind the camera, DEVIL’S PASS shows the scruffy Finnish Harlin going back to his more renegade style of filmmaking which landed him his chance at doing NIGHTMARE 4 in the first place. Here, Harlin is able to capture big thrills and avoid a lot of the contrivances often found in these types of films.

Sure, occasionally the camera falls in just the right spot one or two times in order to capture some key scene and there might be an occasional moment where the cameraman should probably drop the camera and run for his life instead of filming, but these moments are few and far between and Harlin keeps the action moving at a breakneck pace from the beginning of this school trip, which hopes to follow the exact route a team of explorers took in 1959 only to be found soon after, dead by mysterious means in the snow. The fact that this incident is a real life mystery only adds to the ominous tone Harlin creates.

While everything from nuclear testing to UFOs comes up as possible explanations for the explorers’ deaths, Harlin crams a whole bunch of them into one potent mixture with ingredients I’ll keep secret since I think the combination of these elements make this film all the more special. All I can say is that somehow, Harlin and writer Vikram Weet makes it all work and comes up with a possible albeit far-fetched explanation as to what happened to the explorers and the students following in their footsteps. Sure the explanation presented here is not very probable, but it makes for an entertaining yarn nevertheless.

The likable cast led by the spunky Holly Goss is better than most actors found in low budget flicks and does a good job at keeping everything flowing naturally. I also loved the things that happen in the periphery and behind the filmmakers that they don’t notice, such as creatures crawling through the snow in the background or through a tunnel in the distance. This adds more to the found footage aspect because it again embraces the immediacy of something accidentally caught on camera without it feeling staged. Add in some decent (yet not perfectly rendered) CG monsters and other fantastic effects and you’ve got a truly unique found footager that is a cut above the low budget fodder usually found in this genre. DEVIL’S PASS is definitely one of the better caught on camera style films I’ve seen this year and makes for a thrilling ride pretty much from its ominous start to its wickedly clever finish.




THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!


#28 – DEVIL’S PASS
#29 – COME OUT AND PLAY
#30 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH
#31 – I DIDN’T COME HERE TO DIE


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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