The world may or may not having been crying out for a mountain biking/alien/zombie film, but the filmmakers behind the Chilean/Canadian horror film Downhill decided it was ready for one. If that plot concept leaves you interested but slightly bemused, then you might find yourself disappointed and with the same mix of emotions by the end of the film. Downhill can perhaps award itself with the fact that it is the best biking zombie horror film out there, but only because it is the only biking zombie horror film out there.
The film opens with the main characters, couple Joe and Stephanie gearing up for a bike race in Chile with Joe’s best friend, who later fatally crashes. The result is Joe finds himself struggling to deal with the grief and puts his cycling career on hold, until Stephanie and their friend in Chile, Pablo, sign him up for a cycling exhibition back down in Chile, mostly as a way to get him out of the house. You’d think that Joe’s issues of supressed grief might influence later supernatural horrors, but in this case you’d be wrong.The film’s main weaknesses are due to this disjointedness. The focus on mountain biking, and even the death of Joe’s friend in the race, don’t seem to serve any purpose further than to cause Joe and Stephanie to end up in the woods for the latter half of the film. It leaves all the GoPro shots from their helmets during the races at the beginning seem a bit gimmicky.
There is a brief dream sequence early on with cuts to demonic faces (and also goats) which are the closest the film gets to any scares, but any hopes of these reappearing for a frightening second or third act however slowly fade as the couple get caught up in a strange Chilean mish mash of The Hill Have Eyes and Alien. It’s only a pity it is missing the quality, and the terror, of both.
Downhill is out on DVD 10th October and Digital 24th October 2016, courtesy of Solo Media and Matchbox Films.