Mountain Fever


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Mountain Fever
"Bleakly realistic and shorn of romance of all kinds, Mountain Fever may be set in desperate times but many of the dangers it depicts are mundane realities in harsh environments."

Think of the Alps in winter and you probably think of white, expansive spaces. Right from the outset, Hendrik Faller's Alps are painted in shades of grey. Pine forests sprawl across them, not the picturesque woodland of Christmas cards but something rugged, ragged and wild. In the pretty mountain towns there's a sense of claustrophobia. Buildings packed close together might harbour some unseen threat.

Meeting Jacques (Tom Miller) here is a relief. Although he's recently escaped from something awful, he seems very ordinary, easy to relate to. He's done what a lot of people would do in the event of a disease epidemic and headed for the hills, planning to hold out for a while in his parents' house, his parents having left in search of a safe zone. Despite his French heritage, however, he's English, and completely inexperienced when it comes to mountains. Beyond having a warm coat and a supply of tinned and dried food, he has nothing to help him survive. And as he shivers in the big empty rooms, he begins to realise that there's another problem facing him: other survivors are scavenging for supplies. Before long he has a rifle pointed at his face and all his possessions have been commandeered.

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Luckily for Jacques, the person on the other end of the rifle is Kara (Ukrainian newcomer Anya Korzun). Whilst not averse to a bit of violence, she has no particular interest in killing, and doesn't consider him a threat. The people who subsequently besiege the house are less restrained. Bitter as he is about her imposition, Jacques must ask himself if, in fact, teaming up with Kara is his best hope of survival.

Bleakly realistic and shorn of romance of all kinds, Mountain Fever may be set in desperate times but many of the dangers it depicts are mundane realities in harsh environments. Over 400 people are reported missing in the Alps each year, and although most are found, even locals can be unlucky; just a month before this film was shown at Frightfest, the bodies of a couple were found in a glacier 75 years after they vanished when going out to milk their cows. And as Faller makes clear, one doesn't have to be outdoors to find onself in trouble.

After keeping us trapped inside the house for most of the running time, Faller moves the camera outside for the climactic scenes. Keeping it low to the ground emphasises the depth of the snow, the toughness of the slopes and the vast blankness of the sky. It also suggests that Jacques is developing a sense of his own smallness. In earlier scenes, a one eyed cat with hair like a Seventies shag carpet has taken us through the shift from pet to independent agent. Jacques, who has hidden behind money and privilege all his life, must achieve something similar or at least show himself to have some value.

Mountain Fever is a chilly experience. Concise and to-the-point, it heralds the arrival of talent worth watching.

Reviewed on: 04 Sep 2017
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When a fatal flu virus devastates Europe, city boy Jack takes refuge in the Alps but he’s ill-equipped to survive the harsh winter. Things only get worse when renegade Kara breaks into his house and commandeers his dwindling food supplies.

Director: Hendrik Faller

Writer: Hendrik Faller

Starring: Tom Miller, Anya Korzun, Julien Caplan, Julien Michel

Year: 2017

Runtime: 81 minutes

Country: UK


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