‘Horror In The High Desert 2: Minerva’ Is One Of The Year’s Scariest Movies [Review]

horror in the high desert 2

Dutch Marich terrified found footage fans in 2021 with his film Horror In The High Desert. This pseudo-documentary follows the disappearance of experienced outdoorsman Gary Hinge and the mysterious circumstances around that disappearance. The final act of the film is one of the tensest in found footage history, revealing something terrifying is happening in Nevada’s High Desert. Now, Marich is back with Horror In The High Desert 2: Minerva, expanding the, well, horror of what lurks in the dark in the Nevada wilderness.

The sequel picks up with journalist Gal Roberts (Suziey Block reprising her role) discussing another strange case in Nevada’s High Desert. This time, it involves the death of a geology student Minerva Sound (Solveig Helene). She moved to the Nevada desert for a geology program and was placed in a secluded trailer for housing. Quickly she begins having trouble sleeping, hearing strange things outside at night, and just feeling overall uneasy at home. Her best friend shares the videos Minerva sent while staying in Nevada, which begin to paint a terrifying picture of what was stalking Minerva.

Horror In The High Desert 2 still follows the pseudo-documentary format, but now Marich has ramped up the scares to last almost the entire film rather than just an explosive finale. The first-person POV footage is captured through cell phones, dashcams, and handheld cameras, and the scares start almost immediately. This creates an incredibly tense experience that had my neck cramping and butt checks clenched for the entire runtime. Minerva’s videos, even when just house tours, have the viewer on edge, waiting for something to appear in a window or by the door. Marich uses found footage expectations to further ramp up the tension and keep you guessing about when something scary will actually appear.

Then, there are the unmarked tapes found inside the trailer’s walls. Here the film takes on the tone of the horrific found footage film The Poughkeepsie Tapes. The footage is damaged and the audio is warped, giving the camera operator a hauntingly deranged cadence that only makes what they’re filming more terrifying. This footage seems to reveal someone may have been worshipping, housing, or maybe even feeding whatever creatures are lurking in the desert.

Once again, Marich uses stellar sound design to curate a deeply unsettling atmosphere. The creatures, or whatever weird humanoids are haunting the shadows of the series, are followed by some strange sound. It’s a convoluted mix of singing and chanting that set off your fight-or-flight response, even from the comfort of your own couch. This unrelenting sound paired with shaky first-person POV footage of dark woods and basements is total nightmare fuel.

The problems arise, though, with the scope of this new film. Marich is creating a fascinating world and lore that has terrifying implications. But in Horror In The High Desert 2, that world gets a bit too big, especially with such a short runtime. He bounces from Minerva’s story to another victim of the High Desert happenings with little to no transition. And while this second murder adds even more opportunities for scares, it does feel out of place in a film that’s initially focused on this single character. While expanding this world is the next logical progression after the first film, the pacing is a bit too fast to make the throughline as clear as it could be.

While it feels like too much story packed into the brief 74-minute film, there is no doubt that Marich is ambitious and has a strong vision for the world he’s crafting. And there’s more to come, as a third and fourth entry are expected in the series. After the first film, Marich has grown as a filmmaker and expertly understands how to use found footage to create a uniquely terrifying experience. If you’re looking to be just plain scared, Horror In The High Desert 2: Minerva should skyrocket to the top of your watchlist.

Horror In The High Desert 2: Minerva is available now on Prime Video.



‘Horror In The High Desert 2: Minerva’ is a terrifying found footage experience that’ll have you crawling out of your skin.



Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter