(A.k.a. DEAD MOUNTAIN)
Three American friends are enjoying a vacation, trekking through the countryside of former Soviet state Georgia on foot. Daniel (Dean Geyer) leads the trio, a confident traveller who's negotiated this beautiful terrain before. Also in tow are his pretty blonde fiancée Alicia (Spencer Locke) and their mutual pal Chris (Sterling Knight). An early conversation between the latter two reveals that they've had an affair behind Daniel's back; Chris is keen to come clean, while Alicia strongly opposes the idea.
The threesome set up camp atop a mountain and, following a vertigo-inducing mock wedding ceremony between Daniel and Alicia, they relax around their campfire for the evening. Why did Chris become so uncomfortable while actor as the priest during said mock service, Daniel ponders. In absence of an easy answer, the three of them retire to their respective tents overnight.
In the morning, Chris wakes to the sight of local ranger Devi (Giorgi Tsaavi) rifling through his friends' belongings. It turns out he's an old mate of Daniel's and was merely looking for Alicia's camera, in order to take a photo of the group for posterity.
However, while posing for their picture, something terrible happens: Chris stands on an undetonated landmine.
Devi rushes off to find help. Which, on foot, is some four hours away. At least. In the meantime, Chris is left stood there bricking it. afraid to move. He can't, for fear of the change in pressure setting this touch-sensitive bomb off. His friends are similarly frantic ... at least to begin with.
Barely a fifth of the way through LANDMINE GOES CLICK and it seems unfair to expand any further. What happens over the next 90-or-so minutes brings about more than a couple of twists, and a genuinely unexpected character arc which is as praiseworthy in its boldness as it is debatable as to whether it's wholly successful in execution. I only wish I could elaborate further upon this without publishing major spoilers.
Let's just put it this way: aside from a mother and daughter featured prominently during the film's second hour, there's nary a sympathetic character to be found in this film. Nasty surprises lurk around virtually every corner!
Levan Bakhia directs with flair and confidence, allowing set-pieces to play out organically and without haste. He has an eye for capturing his beautiful homeland's landscape in luscious widescreen, but devotes an equal amount of time to eliciting natural performances from his cast. There are a couple of bum notes performance-wise (Geyer is uneven, for example) but for the most part the cast is very impressive. Knight is the obvious standout, as is Kote Tolordava as Ilya, a local farmer whose role is far more considered and fleshed-out than it would've been in most films of this ilk (even if he does look like one of the Hairy Bikers).
The beauty of the film is that our loyalties are always being questioned, as our perception of events - and people - are challenged at each fresh turn. The last fifteen minutes are perhaps a little too brutal for their own good. Not because they're painful to sit through (though there's a final shock which delivers a real gut-punch), but because they rob the audience of the catharsis they were no doubt expecting by that point. It's when your loyalties begin to mentally change that you realise someone has gone too far ... Still, it's a brave move on Bakhia's part and I admire him for sticking to his guns on this matter.
An odd hybrid of thriller, horror, drama, and revenge flick, LANDMINE GOES FLICK deserves to be seen despite its potentially audience-alienating dynamics. It's got enough strong points for it to reward the more open-minded viewer.
Another FrightFest Presents title, LANDMINE GOES CLICK comes to UK DVD courtesy of Icon Entertainment. It looks great in a warm, colourful and sharp 2.35:1 transfer. The picture is 16x9 enhanced and filled with rich detail throughout. Blacks are solid; flesh tones are natural.
English audio is presented in options of 2.0 and 5.1 mixes. Both are able propositions. Optional English subtitles are on hand for a few lines of Georgian dialogue spoken during the latter half of the film.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. From there, a static scene selection menu allows access to the film via 12 chapters.
Bonus features commence with an optional 2-minute introduction to the film from FrightFest organisers Alan Jones and Paul McEvoy. Together they applaud the film's twisting tale, highlight its performances (particularly Knight's) and expand a little on the director's history in filming television dramas.
We also get trailers for CURTAIN, THE UNFOLDING, LAST GIRL STANDING and THE LESSON.
LANDMINE GOES CLICK is a difficult one to talk openly about - such is the insidious manner in which its twisting plot unfurls. It's not that it's complex or labyrinthine, but it certainly goes to places you don't expect it to (especially given its rather innocuous opening 15 minutes or so). It's well worth a punt, and I predict both Bakhia and Knight are destined for bigger things in the future.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Icon Entertainment|
|see main review|