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Black Mountain Side ("Black Mountain Side")

World Premiere
  • Canada
  • 2014
  • 99 mins
  • DCP
  • English
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Hosted by Actor Shane Twerdun, Producer Cameron Tremblay & Writer/Director Nick Szostakiwsky

Canada's remote wilderness becomes a chilly catalyst for terror in BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE, in which a team of researchers uncover a stone structure in the snow engraved with indecipherable archaic writing. When the crew, led by Myles (Shane Twerdun), Peter (Michael Dickson), Francis (Carl Toftfelt), Robert (Marc Anthony Williams) and medic Dr. Anders (Andrew Moxham), tries to figure out where it came from, everything starts to go wrong. The camp's radio contact fizzles out, the local workers suddenly go AWOL and, even more troubling, a violent illness starts to work its way through the remaining few. Convinced their attempts to dig out the mysterious object may have set free an ancient virus, they discover they are woefully ill-equipped to stop the contagion. As paranoia and mistrust take hold, the researchers turn on each other, encouraged to violence by visions of a mysterious figure lurking at the fringes of the woods. But is it real, or a hallucination brought on by fever, insomnia and loneliness? Whatever they've accidentally unleashed, it soon becomes clear that they're dealing with a powerful force that they may never comprehend.

In the tradition of other snowbound shockers like THE THING and THE SHINING, BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE is a calculating and claustrophobic work that casts a spell of quiet madness over its characters. The feature-length debut by Calgary-born Nick Szostakiwsky also shares Kubrick's fascination with existential dread, which starts to seep through at the edges as the researchers struggle with increasingly bizarre mysteries that all seem to centre on the ominous carved stone still lodged in the permafrost. Twerdun, known for his work with Canadian filmmaking legend Larry Kent, puts in a perfectly restrained performance, as do the rest of the all-male cast, at least at first. But as the relationships deteriorate, the researchers slowly begin to lose their minds (and the occasional body part). Beautifully shot against B.C.'s ominous Monashee Mountains, Szostakiwsky's sharp script is harrowing in its depiction of the emotional collapse of these increasingly isolated men of science who are determined to explain the unexplainable — or die trying. Either way, this Canadian horror will make your blood run colder than Christmas in the Yukon.

— Paul Corupe