Directed by Nick Szostakiwsky
When are these cold weather expedition teams gonna learn it’s just not worth it to hang out in the permafrost, poking around at one of those otherworldly relics, waiting to get picked off one by one? Looking at director Nick Szostakiwsky’s Black Mountain Side, I’ve gained a completely new appreciation for anyone (be they a paid employee or not) working in any frame of hawkish elements.
Ringing heavily as a sort of demented hybrid-fusion of The Thing and The Shining, the film takes a group of researchers to the furthest upper reaches of Canada’s wilderness to investigate a massive stone structure that’s been under the ice for possibly thousands of years. The climate is ferocious, with conditions that no one could be expected to work in for a sustained amount of time, let alone roost there. Crew leader Myles (Shane Twerdun) and his squad of scientists and researchers consisting of Peter (Michael Dickson), Francis (Carl Toftfelt), Robert (Mark Anthony Williams) and medic Dr. Anders (Andrew Moxham) each have their own quirks and personalities, some volatile, some a little more diplomatic. However, they all have one unfortunate thing in common, and that is they’re essentially trapped. Relying on a supply vehicle that delivers provisions once a week, they’re behind the eight-ball when it comes to things like instant medical relief when things go wrong… Wait, did I say WHEN things go wrong?
The story delivers a strong backbone in the presentation of the weather and isolation syndrome that plagues our daring crew. The nights are deathly cold and completely unsuitable to work in, so all that’s left to do is read and drink (now I’d have no problem with these rules, but who am I?). Not long into the venture their already defective radio equipment goes to sleep for the final time, unable to reach anyone, virtually leaving the team stranded. After a few minor disagreements begin to sour the workers’ already dour attitudes, the possibility begins to exist that there might have been a release of an airborne virus of sorts with the uncovering of the mysterious stone structure, leaving a few members violently ill.
The illness affects not only the body but the minds of the workers as well, resulting in things crawling under the skin and the subsequent removal of limbs in order to combat the problem. In addition to the back-alley surgical procedures, different members of the crew also begin to hear a demonic voice in the night (sounds like a Barry White/James Earl Jones mix) telling them to do malevolent things to each other. The creepiness factor jumps right off of the scale as complete insanity outweighs rational thought and the unmanageable urge to commit murderous acts overruns casual cognizance.
The snow-enveloped area around the team members’ cabins almost takes on a representative feel to it, looking as if it could swallow up the entire expanse in one shot. Szostakiwsky uses every available inch of space to give the feel of the great wide open rapidly closing in when nighttime falls and the demon comes to speak. Aficionados of the flowing crimson juice will be pleased, however not too bowled over with the amount of arterial sprays contained within. When the end credits have taken their final scroll over your big screen, I’m fairly confident that you’ll have enjoyed the carnage and emotional distress that this film has to offer. Definitely worth a watch.
Now if someone could just convey to future exploration parties that there is NO sane reason to investigate anything out in the dead of winter bigger than a rabbit turd, they’d all live in safe and tranquil harmony.