Friday 16 September 2022

Horror in the High Desert (2021)


Written and Directed by Dutch Marich

Available on VOD on most platforms. 

 Horror in the High Desert is one of the best surprises I have had with movies in the past few years. When I heard about it, I was already sold on the concept – its not essentially a found footage movie, although there are elements, but it’s a really well made spin on the real-life crime documentary.

The documentary aspect covers the mysterious disappearance of adventurous hiker Gary Hinge who vanished after setting off to an undisclosed location in the Great Basin Desert, Nevada.  His housemate and sister alerted the police, and a missing persons investigation began. Its across this documentary troubling details about Gary’s movements begin to surface and eventually viewers are pulled into his final footage recorded.

This film scared me. I wont bother lying. By the time the finale started I was already nervous as the film did such a good job at building a complete sense of dread and foreboding. By the time we see Gary’s final moments of filming I was pretty much hesitant to keep my eyes on the screen – the atmosphere, the terrifying noises all around Gary are just perfectly constructed. I cannot remember feeling so desperate for a horror movie character to EFFING RUN as I was watching this. Complete props to Dutch Marich for crafting such an intriguing film and ending it on a ghoulish sucker punch.

The cast were great. Other than various videos of Gary’s we only see a few other characters, but they all add to the mystery really well. Suziey Block is perfectly cast as the no nonsense report Gal Roberts. Every scene she is in made me listen intently to what she was saying- she really portrays an experienced and Knowledgeable reporter to excellent effect.  Tonya Williams-Ogden and Errol Porter are also great as Gary’s sister and roommate respectively. You can really feel their sadness and distress at the disappearance of Gary, and I also like that they both played scenes where you weren’t entirely sure if they might have something to hide.  David Morales as Bill Salerno a private investigator is brilliant as the professional but caring man intent on helping Gary’s family find closure. He has to play some of the darker scenes in the movie and is very effective in helping to build on the dread factor. Eric Mencis as Gary is fantastic – there is a kindness and gentleness about him that makes you feel so invested in him and what happened to him. He plays his final moments so effectively and as mentioned before....this had me wanting to look away from the screen.

The film also shines an important light on online bullying and trolling. I don’t want to give anything away, but viewers will see that there are some outside forces which play their part on what happens to Gary, and it makes it all the more tragic. Sadly, Gary is a victim of such cruelty, and his brave response is very much to his detriment.

I could not be more excitement that a sequel is on its way, hopefully this Halloween, titled Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva and both Suziey Block and David Morales are back as Gal and Bill!

Honestly hats off to Dutch and cast and crew for creating, for me, an unforgettable horror movie with suspense, mystery and absolute sheer terror. WATCH IT.