Five conventionally good looking American students get a grant to go off and make a film about the The Dyatlov Pass Incident, a genuine mystery from 1959 in which 9 climbers died under mysterious circumstances in the Ural mountains. Why these students did not try to find a mystery somewhere a bit warmer with a beach is really beyond me, but they go anyway. Off they all trot to freezing cold Russia to have sex in tents and trudge up a mountain, when predictably things start going all bad n' wrong.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident is a found footage movie, based on a real mystery. I will say right now that I am a massive found footage fan – I mean who isn't?. The inevitable comparisons to The Blair Witch Project are in some ways fair and in other ways miss the point entirely. Similarities can be drawn in terms of content. However his film's plot is based upon real events where The Blair Witch was not merely a film, it was for the greater part a media event based around (for the first time) web, print and TV marketing. This generated an entirely fictitious and carefully constructed mythology giving the film the appearance of being factual long before it was given a general release. This pure marketing genius made The Blair Witch Project something very special because it used social psychology and the media circus as cinematic tool to add weight and authenticity to it's entirely fictitious plot. There is no other film that can be compared to the Blair Witch Project in this sense as what it did was really bordering on media propaganda to achieve it's ends.
Because this film is based on real events in this sense the makers have lost control of it's plot as a device of terror and mystery. It suffers from the fact that you can go away, Google the incident and spend hours and hours reading about it. This is in many ways, more fun that the movie itself. It is also true that real people did die and that not a great deal of sensitivity is paid to this by the film's makers which was a little bit naughty.
Next lets get down to the money shot- the scary monsters. The obvious difference between this and The Blair Witch is that after a lot of delayed gratification you WILL eventually see what it is that lurks around in the darkness. Whether or not this makes the film more or less scary is really debatable. Watching this I felt that monsterly comparisons to The Descent were apt because you do defiantly get to see some monster and the monsters are on a 1-10 scale of creepiness about a 6 (don't worry.. you won't be decorating your pants like you did watching The Descent but they are okay monsters)
So this is your usual screamy-wobbly-camera-running-about sort of found footage film and pretty average though the last half hour has some serious giggles. Yes it is based on something real but I'm not entirely convinced that this makes it better. The original mystery is pretty interesting though and certainly worth checking out.
Any horror fan is going to enjoy this, it may also appeal to people who are interested in conspiracy theories (get your tin foil hats on people!) It's not anything genre breaking, clever or psychologically scarring but The Dyatlov Pass Incident is good entertaining fun and as good a found footage romp as you are likely to find.