Horror In The High Desert
This new film from Reaptown director Dutch Marich was such a cool surprise! Knowing how to use atmosphere to craft horror goes a long way with me, and that's what made Reaptown watchable despite its flaws. This film still feels padded in places despite its short length - this time with mockumentary interviews instead of flashlight skulking - but overall this microbudget style works much better in found footage, imo.
Horror in the High Desert
Bridging the gap between hyper-realistic found footage horror movies and the modern horrors of the influencer-fan relationship, "Horror in the High Desert" follows the disappearance of Gary Hinge (Eric Mencis). The slow burn mockumentary features a small, inexperienced cast, basic editing, and inconsequential typos that sell the indie "documentary" aura.
If you haven't yet checked out Mo on Netflix, starring Mo Amer and created by Amer and Ramy Youssef (whose terrific show Ramy is over on Hulu), I recommend it highly. Also, we'll be covering it on the show next week, so you'll be all ready!
In 2018 a string of tragedies unfolded in the high desert of North Eastern Nevada. A woman was found dead and another would vanish along the same stretch of remote highway. Could these events be linked to the 2017 disappearance of outdoorsman Gary Hinge?
The fate of a missing outdoor enthusiast and video blogger is detailed in this pseudo-documentary horror/mystery set in the Northern Nevada desert. The slow burn thriller bears striking similarities to the story of real-life Nevada hiker Kenny Veach, who disappeared in November 2014 under mysterious circumstances.
Opting to tell a fictional tale rather than a straight up documentary about the actual missing hiker may at first seem a curious choice, but it gives writer/director Dutch Marich the ability to flesh out the spookier content of his horror/mystery and also avoid tricky legal issues.
Writer/director Dutch Marich was featured in our Horror Pride series last year during the month of June. The series honors the contributions of the LGBTQ+ community to the horror genre. In that interview, he had this to say:
What separates this franchise from its competitors is that it brings all kinds of horror fans to the table. If you enjoy some slapstick, watch Evil Dead 2. Or, if you prefer a more dreadful time, watch the newest reboot released in 2013. If you have been in love with Bruce Campbell since you were a child like me, then watch them all on repeat until your loved ones attempt to hold an intervention.
Originally airing on Fox from 1993 to 2001, The X-Files quickly became a pop culture phenomenon, captivating audiences with its blend of science fiction, horror, and conspiracy theories. The show followed the adventures of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they investigated unexplained phenomena and government conspiracies. The show was later revived for two more seasons in 2016 and 2018 on the same network, cementing its status as a beloved classic.
In fact, in this second installment of Horror in the High Desert, the horror is ramped up, as is the production value and storytelling. While the first was extremely effective, filmmaker Dutch Marich is clearly improving his skill and honing his craft. The scares, plot devices, and techniques are all a clear step up from the already stellar first film.
But, there is also a second story told in the later parts of the film, focusing on a woman named Ameliana Brasher (Brooke Bradshaw), who vanishes the same night that Minerva died. Much of her story is shown through dashcam footage, which allows the filmmakers to use yet another medium to tell the story and really diversify the found footage elements of the story. While a much smaller part of the film as a whole, the story of Ameliana helps to set the stage for what was clearly a bad night in the desert.
A perfect film to excite me for the upcoming Unnamed Footage Festival and a great film for horror and thriller fans of all shapes and sizes, check out Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva now, available to rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play, or YouTube.
Having been tagged by George Russell just after the start, Zhou's car flipped and skidded upside down along the tarmac and gravel at high speed, with the force of the impact seeing the Alfa Romeo vault the outer barrier and come to rest against the inner catch fencing.
Zhou's accident occurred only hours after a high-speed collision in the supporting Formula 2 race in which Dennis Hauger's car ended up on top of Roy Nissany's, with the halo again crucial in preventing injury to Nissany.
Erratic wind gusts, some as high as 70 mph, sent flames in unexpected directions, not only frustrating efforts to douse them but sometimes engulfing and endangering fire crews. By late evening, strong winds were blowing the fire away from Arrowhead -- but toward another popular destination, Big Bear Lake.
For most of the past week, the main expanse of the Old fire, the name given to the blaze advancing through the San Bernardino National Forest, was south of Highway 18, the Rim of the World Highway. But Monday night, firefighters were struggling to beat down patches that had jumped the road. And before dawn Wednesday, the flames crossed the highway in two places and began a northward advance.
On the east side, the flames crossed the highway near Heaps Peak and descended into Hook Creek Canyon. From there, they burned through the community of Cedar Glen and northeastern Lake Arrowhead, destroying dozens of homes.
To the west, the fire skirted Arrowhead, went past Silverwood Lake and headed north toward the high desert community of Hesperia. Firefighters appeared to have stopped the flames directly south of the lake, preventing, at least for the time being, an advance that many had feared would destroy the lakeside resort.
Among the victories logged by firefighters was fighting off the destruction of the 500-acre Las Flores ranch, owned by Kentucky Derby-winning horse trainer Jack Van Berg. The high desert ranch, located at the head of the Mojave River in Summit Valley, is home to the oldest standing barn in Southern California, which was built in 1872. This barn is flanked by a dozen wooden farm buildings and large stands of cottonwood and plum trees.
Granted this was not Somalia in the midst of inter-clan warfare or the southern Sudan ravaged by the militarism of Khartoum. But Eritrea and Ethiopia have just witnessed decades dominated by starvation and dictatorship - hardly breeding grounds for optimism. And there is plenty of optimism at large in Somalia and Sudan too - people labouring long days in relief camps or working against the odds to bring peace and accountable government; families walking hundreds of miles under the desert sun to escape the bullets and track down some food. Without a sense that things can improve none of these things would happen.
But the idea that foreign investors will flock to the Horn is just plain silly. Don't you think they will find it a touch... hmm... high risk? Even the local business class makes most of its money in the import/export trade which creates little employment and channels much wealth abroad. So the market will be no magic bullet for the Horn. And in fact production for the world market can be held accountable for many of the region's present problems. Capital-intensive export agriculture helped plunge the region into debt and soaked up resources - land and capital - needed for food production. In a way starvation itself has its roots in market logic. Food is a commodity. And those who can't pay for it - wandering refugees who have already sold their last livestock or farmers without even devalued Sudanese pounds or Ethiopian birr - will have to do without.
But bad advice and lots of guns from the outside world are not all the countries of the Horn - Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, tiny Djibouti and now Eritrea - have in common. They share an arid topography of highlands and desert - interspersed with more fertile areas particularly in the south of the region and in the Nile river valley. In many ways this is one of the world's crossroads - between the Arab world and Africa, between desert and jungle, between Islam and the diversity of beliefs south of the Sahara. The majority of people who live here are dependent for their survival on subsistence agriculture or tending livestock. This makes them poor but not destitute: they have a resilient culture that has allowed them their share of joys and sorrows for generations, even enabling them to cope with the occasional drought.
Grand ambitionsThe dictatorships of Siad Barre in Somalia and Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia imposed their sweeping schemes for collective farms and state-sponsored industrial development while seeking at the same time to fulfil grand nationalist ambitions. In Ethiopia the entire Mengistu period was marked by a series of wars aimed at preventing the disparate ethnic groups that make up this multinational state (some would say empire) from asserting their sovereignty. Ethiopia has traditionally been highly centralized, with the Amharic people calling the shots from Addis Ababa, but under Mengistu this was compounded by the belief that an autocratic state was needed to drag Ethiopia into a socialist future.
In the country next door it is questionable whether Siad Barre believed his own socialist rhetoric. But even if he did his territorial ambitions for a 'greater Somaliland', to be achieved by annexing the Somali-populated parts of neighbouring countries, doomed his socialism to be drowned in the blood of a brutal desert war in the Ogaden.
Innovation and democracyThere are some signs of hope on this front - at least in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia. Village assemblies in Eritrea and the innovative baito system of local self-government in rural Tigray are embryonic forms of popular control from below. There is a strong democratic ethos in the largely Christian highlands of northern Ethiopia as well as in the sophisticated political culture of urban Sudan. And the political atmosphere in Addis, despite tensions between the Government and the Oromos, is freer than most can remember. When I was there the quasi-official Ethiopian Herald even ran an article calling for the formation of a Green Party to address the country's severe ecological crisis. This is the raw material from which a new, less coercive relationship between state and society might be built. 041b061a72