Gratuitous, pointless and actually quite boring Patricio Valladares Hidden in the Woods was one of the worst films of 2012’s FrightFest so it was with more than a little hesitation that I took my seat at FrightFest a few years back to see his latest offering entitled Downhill.
Revolving around bike racing star Joe (Bryce Draper) the film opens with the accidental death of his best friend and biking buddy a tragic event which plunges him into depression and away from the limelight.
Eager to see him back on track after spending so much time off the saddle his manager-slash-girlfriend Stephanie (Natalie Burn) signs him up for a big exhibition in Chile which Joe agrees attend to realising its been far too long.
Meeting with friends, enjoying parties and looking forward to the race Joe and Stephanie head out for a training session in the Chilean woods but when the stumble upon an injured man being hunted by a group of violent maniac’s things go from bad to worse pretty fast.
On the run from the band of blood thirsty thugs they discover that the dying man is in fact infected with a strange virus that hideously deforms him and starts to spread. Running for their lives the couple must fight to survive even though they have no idea what is going on much like the audience.
With a nonsensical story and some terrible dialogue delivered by actors more wooden than the forest Downhill does nothing to improve on Valladares previous efforts as a writer or director.
Starting off with a bunch of Go-Pro footage supposed to thrill us in detailing both the dangerous sport and Joe’s compadres accident the opening comes across as a bad YouTube video by some idiots who probably use the word “extreme” in every sentence.
Shifting to Chile and a more straightforward shooting style things don’t improve as we get to witness Joe’s infidelity and Stephanie doing a sexy strip tease making one a relatively unlikable hero and outlining the status of the other as just another objectified hollow female façade to scream and jiggle about a bit during the extended and tiresome chases.
Valladares seems to subscribe to the ‘throw in everything you can’ style of horror that sees the film mix up infections, monsters, body horror, Satanism, torture porn, crazy Hick’s and more none of it meshing or even working particularly well and none of it making any real sense as far as the story plays out.
Less is sometimes so much more and a film like The Shrine, which this bares a passing resemblance to, incites far more fear by building tension and atmosphere while avoiding overt displays of disgusting monsters, guts and gore deliberately inserted in to shock.
It seems Valladares is far from learning this lesson however making his latest offering unscary and uninteresting and frankly a waste of time for everyone involved.
And there was me thinking it couldn’t go Downhill from his last film!