Friday 7 July 2023

Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva

Written and Directed by Dutch Marich

Stars: Suziey Block, Solveig Helene, Brooke Bradshaw, C.R. Brough, Sami Sallaway, David Nichols Jr, Brian McPherson, Christine Martin and Laurie Felix Bass

Available now on VOD!

How do you top the original movie? Ask Dutch Marich...seriously. Horror in The High Desert remains an absolute favourite of mine since I first watched it - and have now watched it at least 5 times. Like many I have been chomping at the bit to see the next film in the HiTHD Universe and it was a great day a few months ago when it became available to rent/purchase.

I am not interested in giving away any spoilers so will be extra careful in this review - its best you see it for yourself. 

In short this movie is set deep in the deserts of Nevada and documents two horrible incidents which occurred on the same stretch of road, on the same night, around one year after the disappearance of experienced hiker Gary Hinge. Those who have watched the original movie know that things took a dark and disturbing turn for Gary (and us as the audience!) when returning to the desert to appease subscribers to his vlog. The trolling he experienced led him to make a final, fateful journey, to locate a mysterious cabin which had already terrified him on a previous hike. 

But back to Minerva

This movie initially covers the mysterious death of Minerva 'Minnie' Sound (Solveig Helene) a student who found herself living alone in a trailer due to an accommodation mix-up. Just looking at the trailer from the outside gave me the chills, imagining living in there alone in the thanks!

Bringing back investigative reporter Gal Roberts (Suziey Block) who finds herself embroiled in the mystery of what happened to Minerva, we the audience are thrust into a nightmare world of haunting images and jarringly scary video footage. 'I want to see my friend' may well be a quote that will haunt me forever. 

It would be a good time to add now that the horror truly kicks off form the get go with this film. I found the original brilliant in its build up, true crime style, to that haunting and horrifying ending but it works just as well here having the full works thrown right at you. There are many moments I could pinpoint here as truly scary but I'll leave these to you to discover. 

If this wasn't enough the movie rounds out with the terrifying encounter a young  mother, Ameliana Brasher (Brooke Bradshaw) had on that very same road, later that evening.  This segment of the film is really upsetting and disturbing - footage of Ameliana out on that road interspersed with commentary with her mother (Christine Martin) makes for a truly gut-wrenching piece of horror. 

Some fantastic acting across the cast - really authentic and natural dialogue here which makes the events get under your skin even more so. Suziey Block is excellent again as the intelligent and insightful Gal Roberts. I hope a future entry sees her out there in the desert as I think she may be a match for the horrors that lurk there. Solveig Helene as the ill-fated Minerva was great and oh so tragic at the same time. Watching her settle in, eager to start her studies is a pleasure but at the same time dread inducing. Sami Sallaway who plays a pivotal role in events after Minerva dies is fantastic as 'Cathy'. Watching her talk, I truly believed she had lost her best friend for real. Both Brooke Bradshaw and Christine Masters as the Brasher family again are brilliant - even if the events depicted leave a truly horrible taste in your mouth. Finally, a shout out to David Nichols Jr for his role as unlucky at work Luke Wells, a man who found himself involved in both incidents that night as an EMT.  It’s disturbing to hear his take on that night, and he plays an important role in the overall finale. 

Dutch's direction is again top notch - the shots covering the desert area are beautiful and eerie in equal measure. Where he excels even more is when he is leading us through a dark room or outside.... its just masterfully scary. 

What I really loved about this sequel is that it doesn't provide all answers but most definitely whets the appetite for more entries in the overall universe. Keep us coming back for more is the right path I believe. People seem to be guessing all kinds of stuff about what is really happening out in that desert and its brilliant to read and join in with the speculation. 

I just cannot wait to see what Horror in The High Desert 3: Firewatch brings later this year. I am not even fully sure I am personally ready to go back to that terrifying cabin out in the desert. But since this movie will revisit what happened to Gary Hinge...I kinda have to. Maybe with a pillow or two for company... 

Go and watch Horror in The High Desert 2: Minerva available on all good streaming platforms NOW - its so worth your attention.