More ambitious than your standard cheapie slasher, “Hell Mountain” isn’t simply a supernatural chiller. Its various plot elements, however, don’t lead to an original entry in the genre; instead, it creates a garbled narrative that fuses local legends and fairy tales into a mutated mess of a monster. Meanwhile — despite the presence of cannibalism — it still fails to deliver on horror’s ultimate promise of fear and disgust.
Josie (Catherine Lidstone) is a local television reporter who begins to experience mysterious symptoms, confining her to bed and keeping her from digging deeper into a story of a decades-old crime scene on Bell Mountain (a.k.a. Hell Mountain). Her friends (Taylor Dooley and Colin Woodbury) offer to help by going to the empty house where the crime occurred, but soon Josie begins to realize that her connection to the investigation may run deeper than she’d initially thought.
Writer-director Jesse Pomeroy is clearly steeped in the genre, referencing masters including Edgar Allan Poe, Alfred Hitchcock and Joe Dante. There are occasional moments of wit in his script, pointing toward the potential of a better movie in his future. Unfortunately, “Hell Mountain” lacks basic cohesiveness in its storytelling, taking strange, unnecessary detours and not fully developing its details. The twitchy editing is more likely to induce a seizure than terror, and it can’t mask the wooden, disengaged performances from just about everyone on screen.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood