'Hell Mountain': Film Review

Witch Mountain was scarier.

A young TV reporter experiences mysterious phenomena while investigating a decade-old mystery in Jesse Pomeroy's horror film.

Its title is the scariest thing about Jesse Pomeroy's indie horror film, which attempts to throw cannibalism and witchcraft into its ungainly mix. Displaying an amateurishness that undercuts even its more promising elements, Hell Mountain is the sort of instantly forgettable cheapie effort that has become all too prevalent in movie theaters and VOD listings. This one is for hardcore horror movie fans only.

The story revolves around Josie (Catherine Lidstone), a young TV reporter that has taken to bed with a mysterious illness. She had been working on a story involving a decade-old crime in a now-abandoned house on Bell Mountain, one so horrific that the locale has taken on the nickname that provides the film its title. Unable to rouse herself to do the investigating herself, Josie enlists a pair of friends, Eden (Taylor Dooley) and her boyfriend Sean (Colin Woodbury), to break into the home and report back to her.

"You didn't say anything about this being a haunted house!" whines Sean after hearing about its grisly history involving, among other atrocities, cannibalism. Nonetheless, the pair dutifully treks out to investigate, delivering real-time imagery of their adventures to Josie via their cellphone cameras. (This results in the sort of herky-jerky footage that has made so many recent horror films such a visual trial to endure.)

Meanwhile, Josie's symptoms continue to worsen as she engages in such behavior as wolfing down raw hamburger meat despite being a vegetarian. An elderly neighbor whom she spots hanging around outside her house relates a gruesome tale. Three teenagers entering a nearby abandoned house meet gruesome ends. And, most unbelievably, Josie's rather creepy doctor (Markus Innocenti) makes repeated house calls to check on her.

The multiple plot strands, including Josie's occasional bland interactions with her perpetually traveling brother (Aaron Kelley), add up to very little. That wouldn't matter so much if the director-screenwriter had infused the proceedings with sufficient technical finesse to make them remotely scary, but such is not the case. Ironically, it's the occasional clips of several vintage horror movies as watched by Josie on television that provide the most arresting elements. They're from films directed or produced by Dwain Esper (Maniac, Reefer Madness), a distant relative of Pomeroy.

Unfortunately, Hell Mountain doesn't live up to that legacy, with several plot twists toward the end barely making much of an impression. The generally amateurish performances are no help, although Lidstone effectively conveys her character's physical and emotional desperation.

Production: Hillrose Street
Distributor: Indie Rights
Cast: Catherine Lidstone, Taylor Dooley, Colin Woodbury, Markus Innocenti, Megan Collaso
Director/screenwriter/executive producer: Jesse Pomeroy
Producers: Paul Stanley, Jesse Pomeroy
Executive producer: Howard Pomeroy

92 min.