Horror in the High Desert (2021) Movie Review - Found Footage Suggested by Reddit

Horror, Mystery, Found Footage, Mockumentary | 82 Min
Cover from found footage mockumentary Horror in the High Desert (2021)
  • Director: Dutch Marich
  • Actors: Suziey Block, Eric Mencis, David Morales, Tonya Williams Ogden
  • Writers: Dutch Marich
  • Producers: Dutch Marich, Guy Sheerer, Kenton McElroy, Charlize Lane
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Parental: Peril, Violence, Injury Detail
  • Horror, Mystery, Found Footage, Mockumentary | 82 Min

In July 2017 an outdoor enthusiast went missing in northern Nevada. He was never located. Friends and loved ones recall the events and for the first time talk about the horrific conclusion to his fate.

Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another entry into our series of Found Footage Horror Movies Suggested by Reddit. For those of you new to the site. We have been reviewing found footage horror movies that Reddit’s fairly active found footage community enjoy and talk about frequently. Today’s movie is Horror in the High Desert from 2021. You can check this movie out completely free on the publisher Indie Right’s YouTube channel which is pretty neat.

A Well Liked Found Footage Series

This movie gets talked about a lot; as does the sequel Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva. Much of that is down to the fact that the third movie in the series, Firestorm, is due for release any day. Amazon have been causing some delays and the community is getting pretty antsy about the whole thing.

So I figured, why not check them out? I have been meaning to watch for awhile so what better time than now? My fiancée and I grabbed some snacks and checked them both out, one after the other. I mean, we might as well get all caught up on the story and ready for the third entry. 

A screenshot from found footage mockumentary Horror on the High Desert (2021)

Horror in the High Desert is a mockumentary film ala Lake Mungo that follows the story of a missing hiker. Gary Hinge (Eric Mencis) was an avid outdoorsman and survivalist who mysteriously vanished in 2017. Footage recovered from a popular vlogging channel showed that he encountered a spooky cabin on one of his hikes. Pressure from his online community forced him to revisit the site which is where things all went wrong.

Incredibly Familiar

Copycat filmmaking in horror is a rather large issue. A good idea comes along and everyone replicates it. When it comes to found footage horror, however, it’s doubly true. Every found footage movie that has seen some form of success has been copied ad nauseum. A fact which makes the genre, as a whole, difficult to judge. It is easy to feel a bit jaded when every movie you see is a carbon copy of another, more successful, film.

A screenshot from found footage mockumentary Horror on the High Desert (2021)

Horror in the High Desert is extremely guilty of this. Almost to a point of making you wonder whether they had a single solitary idea of their own. The presentation of the movie, and some of the scenes, are so reminiscent of Lake Mungo that it is almost impossible to shake that uncanny feeling of Deja vu. I get it, though. You are making a found footage movie in a mockumentary style. How could you not be inspired by one of the more significant entries in the series?

Like, Seriously Overly Familiar

But it is the fact that Horror in the High Desert has no ideas of its own that I find really problematic. Even the movie’s prevailing story is a blatant copy of the disappearance of YouTuber Kenny Veach in the Nevada desert. I mean, it goes way beyond coincidence.

Avid outdoors man and survivalist that takes multi day hikes finds a place that makes him feel uneasy; vows never to return. Goes to his channel, posts a vlog about it. Online community tells him he is full of shit and that he has to go back there to prove it. Guy goes back there to film it only to never return. This is the story of Kenny Veach but also the story of the movie’s subject Gary Hinge.

A screenshot from found footage mockumentary Horror on the High Desert (2021)

It is one of YouTube’s most talked about mysteries and one of the internet’s prevailing legends. With Horror in the High Desert, writer, director Dutch Marich has retold this story, almost to the letter, and encased it in a Lake Mungo flavoured wrapping. I am not saying that is an altogether bad thing. I mean, most movies are fairly derivative in one way or another. But there is so little new here that it all feels a bit uninspired.

Still Pretty Watchable

Despite these complaints, Horror in the High Desert is still a fairly watchable movie. I have found through reading posts from the found footage reddit community that those guys are pretty easy to please. And if you have never watched Lake Mungo, The Bay, or other similar movies. And you have no idea of the disappearance of Kenny Veach. Horror in the High Desert is going to feel ultra fresh to you.

The story is fairly compelling, for the first half. Execution is pretty well done and some of the later scenes offer up some decently effective scares. I stayed pretty interested throughout and the runtime is good enough for this type of movie. 

A screenshot from found footage mockumentary Horror on the High Desert (2021)

There are issues here and there such as poorly improvised dialogue and actors that seem uncomfortable with line delivery in this format. And given the documentary style presentation there are certain little mistakes that you wouldn’t see in any professional documentary. Such as voice clips of certain characters playing with no indication of who they are and a decidedly messy ordering of events. Creating a feeling of redundancy and repetition at times.

But it’s okay. This is a watchable movie. Completely average for the most part but a good option for anyone looking for more Lake Mungo style horror. I just wish it had a few ideas of its own. The ending promises a sequel continuing the story of Gary Hinge but that is not what we got with the follow up Horror in the High Desert: Minerva. We will be reviewing that tomorrow.

Should You Watch Horror in the High Desert?

If you love mockumentaries then you should definitely watch Horror in the High Desert. It is completely unoriginal and doesn’t do a single thing new. But it offers a fairly compelling story, albeit one stolen from real life, and has a few effective scares dotted around. If you have never watched Lake Mungo and know nothing of the disappearance of Kenny Veach. Horror in the High Desert will probably feel inspired and completely fresh. If you dislike Found Footage or mockumentaries, there is nothing here to change your mind.

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