When an expedition to find the mythical land of Shambala in the mountains of Bhutan goes missing, a second research team is organised to go and find out what happened. High in the cold mountains, they find that the team has been killed and soon they too find themselves being hunted down by mysterious creatures.
And so we roll with another Sy Fy Original in Killer Mountain, about as bland a film that they’ve ever produced. Part Cliffhanger, part crappy monster movie, Killer Mountain is the a-typical low budget Sy Fy film down to a tee: not engaging in the slightest, cheap to make and with the lack of cash being evident on the screen, featuring a bunch of actors from other Sy Fy programmes and with ropey CGI monsters. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, worn the t-shirt over and over again until it dropped to bits, went back there to do it again, got a t-shirt and so forth.
The story is nothing special – just an excuse to isolate a bunch of people away from civilisation before monsters are set upon them. Predictably shallow characters are introduced and the “take a number and join the soon to be killed” chronology is obvious from the get-go. Anticipated events take place the way they’re supposed to. Dialogue is constantly forgettable. Nothing happens out of the blue here. There’s no depth to anything despite the lure of the mystical foundation of youth in Shambala. It’s all sooooo run-of-the-mill. Would it hurt these writers to get a bit creative from time-to-time? A lead character with a tragic past that must face up to his inner demons and overcome them. Dodgy business guys who are in it for themselves. Native guides who are there to provide the first monster fodder. It is as insulting as it boring. Since these films draw their characters from a vat of monster movie tropes, the audience comes with a set of pre-expectations about how they’re going to pan out as characters. And as Killer Mountain proves first hand, these expectations are always spot on.
Killer Mountain is not only bland in content but it looks bland as a film. The cinematography is bleak and murky and the colours are dark and dull. There’s not an ounce of life in this film from the camera and the same constant greyscale appearance of the film doesn’t lend itself to any form of life or energy. If it’s dull and boring to look at, it’s going to turn the viewer off even quicker. At least attempts have been made to make it look like it was shot on location even if it wasn’t. The CGI weather effects will convince no one but there are rock-climbing scenes (well more like rock-holding, as the characters don’t seem to climb up whenever the camera is on them) and the caverns and underground passageways of Shambala look believable enough. Dark enough for low budget special effects anyway.
Sy Fy has brought more or less every single creature known to man alive in their ‘creature feature’ films at some point and they’ve got to the point now where they can’t even be bothered giving them any sort of identity or explanation for their existence. The creatures, which resemble some sort of lizard-snake-dragon thing, appear out of the blue, menace the cast for a bit and are then defeated. No one is really shocked at the discovery of a new species and the monsters are only named as ‘drucks’ which means nothing to anyone. It’s a shame because the monsters aren’t the worst-looking CGI creatures that Sy Fy have created but they don’t give me any reason to care for them or fear them. They’re just there on the screen. The worst CGI effect this time around is for the helicopter and subsequent crash.
I think after my current batch of Sy Fy Originals have been watched, I’m going to have to put them on hold for a while. I can’t keep watching the same stuff over and over again because in turn I’m then repeating the same reviews over and over again. Killer Mountain isn’t the worst Sy Fy Original but it’s just a-n-other of the same old shebang. If that is your cup of tea then go for it.