Perhaps the side of the Atlantic I’m on has affected my enjoyment of SyFy Channel movies, or perhaps I’ve just picked a couple of really rough ones to review recently. But never fear, because we’re sticking with this ludicrous plan to review them all to the very end, and today is “Killer Mountain”.
This has what I would refer to, if I thought about it at all, as a “classic” SyFy Channel lineup. You’ve got one guy from a famous sci-fi show, Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol from “Battlestar Galactica”), a couple of genre TV regulars – Emmanuelle Vaugier (“Lost Girl”, dozens of others) and Andrew Airlie (“Reaper”, “Intruders”); and lots of other people you’ve never heard of, unless you’ve watched way too much Canadian TV.
And you’ve also got a classic plot – the estranged couple! Ward Donovan (Douglas) is an expert mountaineer, who’s now working as an instructor; he’s asked by eccentric billionaire Barton (Airlie) to climb a mountain, somewhere in the Bhutan / Tibet region of the world, which has been declared illegal to climb by its government, to rescue his ex-wife Kate (Vaugier), who went up there for reasons which are left a little vague at the beginning. Reference is made to Aaron Douglas not exactly looking, physically speaking, like a typical mountain climber, which I liked – not that I’m one to talk, I look like a potato with a beard – and to some ancient curse, which is the real reason the government has banned all climbing, and we’re off for “adventure”.
It’s a welcome return for the disused boat yard which has been seen in a few other SyFy movies. Yes, I appreciate how sad it is for me to notice when they re-use sets. This is Barton’s base of operations, and they film very carefully there because it’s on relatively flat ground and if they showed the far distance, you’d quite legitimately wonder where all the mountains were. Ward gets a new team, including a few old friends and Barton’s douchebag son, who has a pair of computer goggles that can apparently track anyone, yet are never used for that purpose at any point in the movie, or for any purpose at all (but I am prepared to say I might have nodded off for a second, and missed it).
There’s also a guy flying a helicopter, who gets himself killed a little later on because he goes too high. I mentioned this in my review of “Yeti: Curse of the Snow Demon”, but helicopters have rescued people from the very summit of Everest before, and while it’s certainly dangerous to fly in air that thin, it’s do-able. If you’re a billionaire, you’re going to be able to afford the very best in helicopters, is what I’m saying. Ah, dammit, I hate getting bogged down in these dumb details, but not as much as SyFy Channel love getting these dumb details wrong.
Turns out the real reason they’re all up there is the mystical city of Shamballa, and the fountain of youth, as Barton has incurable brain cancer. When the local army gets wind of what’s going on, they go up there too, and as our couple are re-united in one thread of plot, Barton fights off the army guys in the other. Lots of mountain-climbing footage taken from a steep hill somewhere in Canada, you know the sort of thing.
I haven’t even mentioned the monster! I was expecting a Yeti-style beast, honestly, but it’s some sort of lizard-looking thing. If you’re wondering how a decent-sized family of large carnivores have survived way up a mountain where humans have been forbidden to go for…decades?…and it’s too high up to support other large life, then you’re in about the same place as I was. The CGI is, of course, absolutely terrible.
The more I think about it, the more I feel I missed a chunk at the end, where they actually go into Shamballa (they see it in the distance at one point, deep down in a cave) and resolve their storylines. It all feels tacked on, like they got to a certain point and went “this’ll do. Main couple are back together, bad guys are dead. Done”. Writer / director Sheldon Wilson seems like one of SyFy’s most dependable movie hands, though, having previously given us “Red: Werewolf Hunter”, “Snowmageddon”, “Mega Cyclone” and “Scarecrow” – and a recent, amazing-sounding, movie called “Shark Killer”, so that seems unlikely. Perhaps it’s just a terrible movie and no-one really cared about making it good.
Rating: thumbs down
PS – If there’s anyone out there who collects “movies where the star makes reference to the TV show that made them famous”, then add this to the pile. Aaron Douglas says “let’s get the frack out of here”, frack being the PG-13 space-alternative to a slightly ruder word that “Battlestar Galactica” used.