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Renny Harlin’s latest outing is The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Devil’s Pass in the States), a found footage film inspired by real events. In 1959, all nine hikers skiing in the Russian Ural mountains were killed in strange circumstances. With no one left to tell the tale of what happened, nobody knows why the group suddenly burst out of their tent and went off into the snow in their bare feet, despite temperatures well below freezing. When the bodies were recovered, they all displayed strange injuries consistent with having been subjected to extreme pressure, but there were no signs of a struggle. Further, some of the bodies were highly radioactive and one was missing its tongue. The inquest was forced to conclude that the hikers had been the victims of ‘a compelling unknown force.’

Harlin has a history of alternating between action and horror movies, having directed Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, as well as the fourth Nightmare on Elm Street film and The Exorcist: The Beginning, and for The Dyatlov Pass Incident, he relies more on psychological thrills than massive special effects to produce a tale of five American students awarded funding to research the incident and who set out to recreate the incident. Their discoveries are not what you think.
History has given us a number of incredible stories of attempts to survive against the odds. Here’s the best of films that were inspired by true events.

Alive

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Another film examining the perils of surviving in the mountains is Alive, a 1993 film based on Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, a book by Piers Paul Read. It documents the struggles of a Uruguayan rugby team lost in the Andes mountain range after the crash of their plane.

The story is a powerful demonstration of what people will do to survive when faced with extreme situations and in Alive, the survivors, after hearing on their radio that the search for them has been called off, are forced to eat the bodies of their former co-passengers in order to have enough food to keep them going until they’re rescued.

The film was broadly well received, although it attracted some criticism for casting actors who didn’t accurately represent Uruguayan society. However, the original team were mainly from a privileged background and of Northern and Central European descent, which was reflected in the casting. However, it was praised for its delicate handling of such a sensitive topic; it would have been easy for the film to descend into schlock horror, but instead, director Frank Marshall downplayed the cannibalism aspects, rightly feeling that it didn’t require any emphasis – the act was shocking enough in itself.

One of the survivors, Nando Parrado (depicted by Ethan Hawke in the movie), served as technical adviser for a film which is an engrossing examination of the tenacity of the human spirit.

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