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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Mountain Fever

My notes on Mountain Fever

 

This low-budget picture has something of the mix of early apocalypse movies like Five, The Last Woman on Earth or The World, the Flesh and the Devil – where the elimination of almost all of the human race basically serves to throw a few characters together so they can work out their own psycho-dramas without the distraction (or support) of civilisation.  With the rise in popularity of apocalypses, pandemics and the like as movie subjects and the proliferation of small-scale, hand-to-mouth moviemakers, there’s been a trend for this mix in the last few years (The Dead Outside, Here Alone, The Battery, Before Dawn).

 

Shot in the French Alps, but mostly indoors in an unlit (if spectacular) house, this tight drama almost has a theatrical quality.  It’s low-wattage drama – in one significant moment, literally so – and has a few too many longeurs, but works towards an effective, ironic, oddly credible last act … even if the build-up is full of folks doing things that don’t entirely ring true.  With some sort of deadly disease ravaging France (and maybe the world), bespectacled IT guy Jack (Tom Miller) is holed up with his one-eyed cat in his parents’ holiday home, demonstrating his ineptitude in practical matters like chopping wood … and feuding a bit with a caller who steals cat-food out of the bowl and insists in a Pinterish way on being given a lift to Lyon (where there’s supposed to be a refugee facility).  Then Kara (Anya Korzun), a Ukrainian blonde, barges in and holds him up at gunpoint, demanding he fortify the place against a pair of pissed-off Frenchmen (Julien Michel, Julien Caplan) … who turn out to have their own very complex history with her.  The basic premise is interesting – as a family drama plays out between Kara and the French guys on turf which ought to be Jack’s … nobody wants Jack to have any input, but it’s his house (or, rather, his parents’).  He keeps having chances to duck out and leave the others to it, but post-apocalypse neediness or a stubborn sense of ownership means he keeps getting in the way and usually being thumped for it.

 

There’s a minor arc of his growing competence, but the film doesn’t fully embrace its madness until Kara and the angriest French guy (who really does have a point) stagger off further up the mountain and the protagonist just can’t resist trudging after them to find out the end of the story.  Writer-director Hendrik Faller opens with a few post-apocalypse signifiers, but doesn’t have the resources to convey the extent of the crisis – which makes for a certain vagueness about what exactly is happening, and of the small group of characters only one gets sick (Kara does scare away the cold-caller by faking a cough) while another seems to freeze to death well before the fever can get to him.

 

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  1. Pingback: FrightFest 2017 – Complete Review Round-Up | The Kim Newman Web Site - August 29, 2017

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