Thursday, January 16, 2014

Netflix Movie Review: Devil's Pass

Man I used to love me some Renny Harlin movies. He made three great movies (Shut up! He only made 3 movies!) The Renny Harlin Trilogy, Cliffhanger, Cutthroat Island, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, the last two were with his then wife, Gena Davis, and in those three movies everything was disco, baby, golden disco.

            Then aliens or the government or something took him over and he made crap after that, and I even lost track of what he was doing.

Meanwhile . . .
            My wife and I have been on a found footage kick. Mostly all bad, the found footage movies follow a formula that is ripe for talking and commenting through the first half to three quarters of the movie, then the last part either makes no sense (because we weren't paying attention, or the movie is crap), is entertaining in a good way, or a bad way, or continues with the rest of the movie and is horrible.

            Devil’s Pass, was Renny Harlin’s movie before the currently in theatres Hercules.

            I would have thought that Renny Harlin doing a found footage movie was a sad sight, but then again Barry Levinson (an Academy Award winner) did one last year with The Bay, and of all the found footage movies that we've seen, The Bay was actually really good; we were still stunned that Barry Levinson was doing one, but the fact that he did made the fact that Renny Harlin was doing one a bit less insulting to his career choice (Yes, in this instance I’m putting Barry Levinson and Renny Harlin in the same group, I have in the past really enjoyed both their movies, with the exception of anything past the late ‘90’s.)

            If you've seen one or two of the found footage movies streaming on Netflix and then this one, I think you’ll agree that Devil’s Pass ain't that bad. It obviously has a budget and a director that knows what he’s doing, even if the story he’s working with is a bit dull at times.

           It starts off with us getting to know the characters, and sorry characters, but this movie is not good because of you, we don’t care. Any time the movie moves from their investigation into the history of Devil’s Pass, and into the group’s relationship, I lose interest. Devil’s Pass is good because of the story, and not because of the characters. The acting is fine, it’s just the writing – these people, who must be stupid or else there would be no movie, are just blasé people.

            The tension between the people in the group was rather silly, especially when people start hooking up with each other during everything that’s going on (“We’re lost!” “That makes me horny!”), and people are jealous about it?

            Then the avalanche, and man that was cool, and with a low budget and what he was given to work with, Renny Harlin shines through with a few gunshots and a brief chase. Nothing like his peak of course, it all happens fast but it’s believable and ends weird.

            You’re on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, people are shooting at you, do you go through the large creepy metal door or face your attackers?

            Without giving too much away, there are elements of time travel, and that was the main thing that kept me interested. A hint is given about it early on, and it was vague enough that my wife and I talked about me being right or wrong that time travel was gonna play a part, so we had fun watching for that reason when things were a bit dull or silly.

            Essentially with found footage movies it comes down to the pay off, the ending, was it worth it all. Seriously, every found footage movie is a chore to get through, so the ending better be good – open ended / cliffhanger, fine, but it better be good; wrap it up, fine, but it better be good. So many of these movies simply end, thinking that if they end with a cliffhanger or leave things open, they’re being creepy (the last shot is someone being thrown to the camera and someone presumed dead or nice appears and then walks away, or someone is pulled into the dark, whatever – then it just ends) sorry, but that sucks.

            This movie does leave things open in a way that is acceptable and sticks to the way the story has been playing out.

            A good found footage movie amid an ocean of bad ones, from a good director possibly slowly returning to form.

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