Devil's Pass (2013)
The Dyatlov Pass follows a group of American students on a trek to investigate the true life mystery of nine Russian skiers who befell unexplained deaths while skiing in the Russian mountains in 1959. To this day, their deaths have been one of the most bizarre unsolved mysteries of the 20th century.
In the University of Oregon, the student Holly King is awarded with her research about the fate of nine Russian hikers known as The Dyatlov Pass Incident that mysteriously died in the Ural Mountains in Russia in 1959. She decides to make a movie following the steps of Dyatlov and his team and she invites the filmmaker Jenson Day; the audio technician Denise Evers; and the experienced guides JP Hauser Jr. and Andy Thatcher. They travel to Russia expecting to find the truth about the unsolved mystery; but they find death instead.
A group of 5 students go the location of the infamous "dyatlov pass incident", to make a documentary but things take a turn for the worse to reveal the secrets as to what happened there.
- Note: The Dyatlov Pass Incident was a real-life incident which occurred in February 1959 on the Kholat Syakhl mountain, part of the Ural Mountain range in what was then the territory of the Russian SFSR, Soviet Union. Nine hikers of Russian origin died in sub-zero conditions after fleeing their tents into the night on February 2nd for unknown reasons. Soviet investigators, unable to come up with a viable explanation, attributed the deaths to "compelling natural forces", closing the case due to a lack of evidence of any criminal element being involved and sealing off the site of the incident for three years. The Incident is still subject to popular scrutiny today by people around the world.
Note: This film is of the "found footage" genre, and as such, one of the "students" (cast members) is always "filming" unless stated otherwise.
The film opens with a series of grisly black and white images showing bodies of the nine Russian hikers who died in the 1959 incident, with superimposed text stating they were found dead two weeks later after venturing into the wilderness of the Ural mountains. This has become known as the Dyatlov Pass Incident.
We cut to a scene of University of Oregon psychology student Holly King (Holly Goss) who does a short description of the Incident and her intent to make a film together with her fellow student, Jenson Day (Matt Stokoe) for a university project. Their psychology professor, Dr Martha Kittles expects her students to "do more than come up with more than a believable explanation", and wants them to put themselves in the place of the original hikers in order to better understand why they did what they did. Day seems highly skeptical of the official account of the Incident, and declares that "we're gonna find out the truth".
King further outlines the specifics of their trip to Russia, flying from Oregon to Moscow and then to Chelyabinsk, before reaching the mountain. Ominously, she outlines the etymology of their destination, Kholat Syakhl, the "mountain of the dead", supposedly named as such by the local Mansi tribe due to a "number of mysterious deaths and disappearances throughout history"
Joining them are veteran climbers Andy Thatcher (Ryan Hawley), JP Hauser (Luke Albright) and audio engineer Denise Evers (Gemma Atkinson), also students from the university. The team trains on local skiing slopes until they depart for Russia on January 25th.
The next scene is a news report on 5 missing Oregon students - ostensibly our protagonists, and describes a search by Russian authorities which discovered remains of a campsite with personal effects belonging to the students. Another news report then comes up, this time a Russian channel, which hosts several "experts" who offer theories ranging from a tragic accident to the "Yeti", to "extraterrestrial spaceships" to account for the missing hikers. Notably, the local inhabitants from the Mansi tribe interviewed have their own theory, where they believe that the disappearance is attributed to a "place where two worlds collide, where you can step form one world to another into the world of spirits".
In a third (and final) news report, it is stated that authorities recovered video footage shot by the Oregon hikers, refusing to release the contents to the public, and a group of hackers managed to acquire and release the footage instead. Part of it is shot in night-vision mode, showing a terrified Holly crying in the dark while a unnerved Jenson tries to comfort her. The footage cuts to black.
One month earlier.
We have a scene of happier times, where our students have arrived in Russia and are taking a train from Chelyabinsk to the town of Evdel (sic). Holly starts interviewing the rest of her crew, questioning their rationales for coming along on the trip. Andy remarks on an angel wing tattoo that Holly has behind her right ear.
They arrive in the town of Evdel, and set about attempting to interview a local inhabitant, Piotr Karov, who was the tenth and final member of the Dyatlov party, but fell sick at the last minute and had to back out of their expedition. Apparently, he had a mental breakdown after the Dyatlov incident and has been warded in the town's psychiatric facility ever since. The students approach the sanitarium, and an orderly-in-charge (Leonid Lutvinskiy) flanked by two other orderlies comes out, and angrily demands that they stop filming, later imploring that they leave and go home. Holly asks why they can't interview Karov, but the in-charge claims that Karov is dead, and again angrily demands that they leave before storming off. Moments later, the students see an old man in the window of an upper floor, and wonder aloud if that is Karov, before the old man holds up a hand-drawn sign with the Russian for "stay away" on it. Naturally, our students don't understand, but before Holly can ask the old man to clarify, he is escorted away from the window by two orderlies.
That night, they all find a local bar and the bartender puts them in touch with Sergei, who is going to be driving a truck to the town closest to the trailhead they'll be departing from, and the next morning they get to the town. Sergei asks them if they'd like to interview his aunt, who was one of the searchers who went up to recover the Dyatlov group. At the interview, she relates that there were 11 hikers found, not the official 9 and that the last two had a "machine" with them and were "worse than the others".
The party finally heads out on foot. Andy and Denise begin to become playful with each other. They spend the night in their tents and the next morning find large yeti-like footprints around their tents. However, these footprints begin suddenly and end just as suddenly. JP and Andy are not amused and accuse Holly of making the prints. She denies this strongly. At one point during the day they see more prints, and hear strange noises. They find an abandoned weather station and are shocked when they find a severed human tongue inside it. At a stop, Holly and Jenson are separate from the others and discuss how they each had events in their lives that foreshadowed this trip. With Jenson it was during an acid trip and with Holly it was recurrent nightmares and seeing "a door". In the far background are seen two humanoid-looking figures slipping by, but none of the party notices them.
The second night, they arrive early at the pass. Too early as it turns out, something strange has happened to time. Also, none of their GPS devices or compasses are working. Jenson and Holly go exploring and pick up radioactivity on their Geiger counter. This leads them to a heavy metal door buried in a hill side. They note that it locks from the outside (to keep something IN), and that the lock is open. However the door is stuck and they decide to go back and not mention it to the others.
Around the campfire, Andy and Denise flirt and retire to a tent together where they make love. Holly and JP also pair off. Just at dawn, their is an avalance that kills Denise and breaks Andy's leg. The avalanche was started by explosives and some of the party speculate that the military is trying to kill them while others ridicule the idea.
After much discussion, they decide to fire off a flare gun to summon the local townspeople. Shortly after doing this two men come up and as they approach ask if they are alright. Holly or Jenson become very suspicious about the men because they have arrived way too soon. They begin to run away, leaving Andy, and the two soldiers begin to fire, killing Andy and wounding JP. The party makes it to the door, unsticks it, and enters the bunker.
Inside they see a power handle and turn it and surprisingly, the lights come on showing two tunnels leading away. They start down the right tunnel, but the lights pop out and so they turn back. In the dark, Holly feels something brush her.
Going down the left tunnel, they come to an abandoned and trashed lab. There is a book containing files of Russian soldiers, each one stamped "killed in action". There is a wire cell containing numerous meat hooks. And, they come upon a recently-killed soldier who is missing his tongue. Holly speculates that he was sent inside to see if the threat that caused the placed to be sealed up is still there. Going through another heavy medal door, they see several skeletons of weird human-like figures.
Holly and Jenson leave JP propped against a wall and continue their searching. Amazingly, they find a cell phone. JENSON'S cell phone. But he still has his cell phone with him. This is an exact duplicate right down to having the videos that Jenson has taken on the expedition. Suddenly they see two tall monstrous figures who attack and further injure (eat?) JP. The creatures appear and disappear, teleporting around the cave. They successfully herd Holly and Jenson through another metal door, and the two lock it to keep the monsters out. Apparently they can't teleport through the doors.
Inside this last cave is a time portal. Have passing what could be a day there without light most of the time, they decide to go into the portal together, visualizing the area just outside the bunker and hoping it takes them there. There's a bright white light that feels the screen.
Now, we are back in 1959. Two figures (presumably Holly and Jenson) are lying outside the bunker. Two figures (Sergei's aunt and father) come up and discover the bodies, but immediately Russian soldiers interrupt and send them back to the village. The soldiers take the two bodies into the bunker. One begins to swing Jenson's cell phone around (which is still recording), and then abandons it where it is found later by Holly and Jenson in 2013. The soldiers remark on the two's ultra modern dress. They strip them to their undergarments and hang the two, who we now see have mutated into monsters,on meat hooks, and leave. The last scene of the movie is the two monsters (mutated Holly and Jenson) coming out of their comas and looking around.