Wicked Wednesday: Cold Ground (2017)

Making a good found-footage movie is hard. I often wonder if it’s one of the most difficult of genres to get right. To be wholly convincing while being captivating takes a lot of imagination.

Alas, most found footage just comes off as recycled stories. This was very much the case with the French film Cold Ground.

As with seemingly all found-footage movies, it opens with a title card telling us that the footage being presented was made 40 years earlier in 1976. The footage was found and restored in 2016, then revealed to the public the following year.

A pair of journalists are making a documentary. They head out to the Alps on the French-Swiss border to meet with a group of scientists. Everyone involved in intrigued by a series of animal mutilations that have been happening in the area. The scientists believe it’s due to a new bacteria that has emerged due to the rising temperatures in the area.

The journalists meet up with several scientists and an American agent to travel up the mountain where they were meet more scientists at an encampment. Of course, the scientists at the camp haven’t been heard from in some time.

Over the course of their journey, the group are harassed in their tents at night, find strange things in the morning and continue blindly despite all signs pointing to “TURN THE HELL BACK”. Sound familiar? It is, of course, very much the path that The Blair Witch Project took. And if you’re recycling ideas from 1999 without adding anything to it…please ask yourself “why”?

It’s not nice to sound so negative and cynical. But it’s difficult when you’ve watched so many of the same movies over and over again. I think I’m particularly harsh on found-footage movies in particular, of course. Don’t ask me why, as I clearly need to do some self-reflection.

As the group is attacked, we do learn that they are the target of some sort of beast. This could have been a very fun idea, only we’re never given much more than that. No story. No folklore or mythology. Just accept your place of reheated beans and smile.

But it’s very strange to have landed on “killer beast thing” without further explanation. It’s entirely likely that I missed something, but it does seem unlikely. Why build up about killer bacteria? Are the scientists so dumb that they can’t tell what’s been mauled by a beast? Do the bacteria turn things into these beasts?

If we were going down the killer bacteria route, I really was hoping for something down the route of The Thing. We never get convinced of any of the relationships between people. It would have been so fun to see them turn on each other!

I was not at all convinced that this movie was made in 1976. Showing old cameras and slapping on a filter does not an old movie make. Though, I do love the poster art for this (the one with the drawn frozen figure in the ground). I couldn’t track down the artist, but it’s very eye-catching, and I would love it in my home. So as far as aesthetics and style of the 1970s goes, the poster 100% nails it.

The cast is also very solid for the most part. Actor Doug Rand stood out to me in particular. I was even more pleased to learn that he not only wrote the story for Blood Hook but is a fellow Wisconsinite. I knew I had to be biased for a reason!

One comment

  1. Agreed, as you make valid points on the strengths and weaknesses.

    I reviewed this one, as well, over at B&S About Movies. The one-sheet is a big selling point, as it has a nice, VHS retro vibe about it. I see the film as cross between The Blair Witch Project meeting Neil Marshall’s The Descent.

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