Black Mountain Side
Directed by: Nick Szostakiwskyj
Run time: 99 minutes
The Lowdown: “John Carpenter’s The Thing” is arguably one of the best horror movies – and not
just remakes – ever made.
It’s a master’s class in film making economy. There are no wasted moments, no superfluous scenes.
It expertly builds tension, feeding off the isolation of its remote location and the paranoia of its
main characters, until it explodes in an orgy of unbelievable practical FX.
Black Mountain Side is a love letter to Carpenter and the continuing influence of “The Thing.”
It’s both an homage and an attempt to replicate the same mounting dread in a similar desolate
location. A skeleton crew of explorers and scientists have unearthed an archaeological anomaly –
the buried beginnings of a structure that pre-dates any other known historical finds in a snowy,
barren region of Canada.
With a sparse cast of relatively unknown actors, Black Mountain Side has to rely heavily on the
thematic elements of its central mystery to propel the narrative – what is the object, why are the
indigenous workers abruptly leaving camp, what’s causing some of the men to suddenly become
There are several taunt moments that elicit genuine unease, and some solid use of gore at
unexpected moments to jolt the viewer, but the film never escalates. It’s like a roller coaster car
slowly ticking uphill to that first big drop, but the drop doesn’t ever come.
When Black Mountain Side does finally let loose, the sudden violence doesn’t pack the wallop
that you would expect. It’s difficult to immediately tell which characters are dispatched, lessening
the impact that any character development/audience empathy had worked to develop.
The ending is equally abrupt and anti-climactic.
You’re left wanting more, but not in the way that is satisfying.
Black Mountain Side is a solid watch, but it could have resonated deeper and benefited from
more exploration of its core mystery and a better reveal of its shadowy creature.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot Chicks – No.
Nudity – No.
Gore – Minimal.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – The deer god.
Buy/Rent – Rent it.
Jack’s Back (Shout! Factory, 97 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): James Spader has been enjoying a wonderful
run on TV’s “The Black List,” and Shout! Factory smartly recognized an opportunity to re-introduce
longtime fans to one of his lesser-known roles in this obscure, largely forgotten 1988 serial killer
thriller. Spader is great playing twin brothers, one of whom is forced to hunt down the possible
spirit of Jack the Ripper. It’s not a Jack the Ripper cult classic on par with 1979’s “Time After Time,”
but it’s a fun, if dated, reminder of what made 1980s films so enjoyable.
Goosebumps (Sony, 103 minutes, PG, Blu-Ray): Speaking of Jack – Jack Black plays it (mostly)
straight in the unexpectedly solid big-screen adaptation of R.L. Stine’s classic “Goosebumps”
literary franchise. It’s heavy on the CGI, and most of the monsters are rendered just cartoonish
enough so as not to truly scare little kids, but a number of adult-friendly jokes land and the action
is consistent enough to keep younger and older viewers occupied throughout.
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