Title: Cold Ground

Also known as:

Year: 2017

Genre: Horror / Mystery / Mockumentary

Language: French / English

Runtime: 86 min

Director: Fabien Delage

Writer: Fabien Delage

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4144350/

Cattle has been mysteriously mutilated up in the mountains by the French-Swiss border. Two journalists decide to investigate the case with the help of experts. Once they arrive at the scientist camp they're met with the sight of the camp being destroyed. There is something alive up there in the mountains and it's out to get them.

Our thoughts:
Fabien Delage follows up his mockumentary "La rage du Démon", a celebatory film about a cursed film that never existed, with a more traditional type of mockumentary - a found footage horror movie. It's easy to get excited by the promises of "Cold Ground" from its excellent poster art, intriguing trailers and genuine '70s vibe. The film is of the more basic nature, closer to something like "The Blair Witch Project" than "Cloverfield". Essentially it's a mockumentary that wants to keep it grounded, evoke the idea that maybe, just MAYBE this actually happened (I'd argue newer found footage horror movies stopped trying and just used the style as a gimmick), but is that enough to be a good found footage horror movie in 2017?

The setup is familiar and straight-forward. The year is 1976, and there have been some strange occurances of cattle mutilations on the French-Swiss border up in the Alps. Two journalists take an interest in the case and start an investigation, and along with them they bring a British biologist and an American forensic investigator. They're supposed to head up to a scientist camp, but it's a long hike and they'll need to be prepared to fight the cold. What they didn't expect to stumble upon was a torn up scientist camp, missing people and several dead bodies. Whatever did this is obviously still up there, and the journalists know that they need to document every move they make so that the world will know what actually happened up there.

As excited as I am about "Cold Ground" and the approach it takes, I ended up being torn on the result. The whole vibe, the care that has been put on making it look and feel authentic, and the wonderfully cold location, is perfect. Few movies nowadays make you feel like you're stuck in the middle of nowhere, slowly freezing to death. It's something that Fabien Delage and his crew succeeded extremely well with. It never felt staged and we ended up feeling lost in the mountains with these characters. On the other hand, it never felt like the movie evolved into much. These journalists and their team are just walking around, trying to survive. If we're going for realism, that's fine, I wouldn't do anything else if I was in the position. But what this leads to is a very repetitive formula: walk around, stumble upon a dangerous situation/hear a sound, run until you are safe and repeat. There is something missing here that I think "The Blair Witch Project" solved by having a stronger focus on relationships, trust breaking, and an overall stronger mystery in what's going on. "Cold Ground" never grows much as a movie after the initial setup.

In many ways found footage horror movies should be judged accordingly, but due to the amount of movies we have in the subgenre it's hard not to just think that many of them should have been filmed as standard films. "Cold Ground" has a look that works really well with what they are doing, but I don't think it justifies being found footage well enough to get a pass on some aspects that it handles poorly.

I'm keeping my review vague in terms of what dangers are up in the mountain, but it's probably what you expect. They handled this aspect well because it all looks and feels scary, it's just a shame that it wasn't utilized in more interesting ways than having our lead characters constantly running away. The constantly running characters are obviously also holding the cameras, so they are the deciding factor in what we, as an audience, will see. It's a few frames of what is chasing them, but the shaking cameras mostly capture snow and trees.

I do recommend the movie because I did enjoy it. I find the way that "Cold Ground" makes me feel lost in snowy mountains to be exciting enough. It's an admirable effort and they took a risk by setting this in the '70s, and it exceeds with the the style over your typical throwbacks. Overall, "Cold Ground" is a solid effort. Its biggest flaw is the repetitive aspect of the actual horror (walk, see bad thing, run, repeat), but I still had fun with the movie. It's definitely worth checking it out upon its release in early 2018!

Positive things:
- Looks great!
- Wonderful and scary location.
- The things they are running were well made for the few shots we got.
Negative things:
- It has a repetitive formula.
- It could probably have been more intense if shot as a regular movie, despite how well the found footage style worked with the environment.

Gore: 2.5/5
Nudity: 0.5/5
Story: 2/5
Effects: 3.5/5
Comedy: 0.5/5

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