Director/Screenplay – Dutch Marich, Producers – Charlize Lane, Dutch Marich, Kenton McElroy & Guy Sheerer, Aerial Photography – Daniel Valle & Tim Vidrine, Music – Joseph Carrillo. Production Company – Maya Aerials/Luminon Entertainment.
Tonya Williams Ogden (Beverly Hinge), Eric Mencis (Gary Hinge), Errol Porter (Simon Rogers), Suziey Block (Gal Roberts), David Morales (William ‘Bill’ Salerno)
A documentary about the disappearance of Gary Hinge from the town of New Ruth, Nevada in 2017. A quiet person who kept to himself, Gary was an avid hiker, often heading out into the surrounding desert areas on survival quests for days at a time. He used to blog about his ventures. He returned from one expedition saying that a person had been moving around his tent at night, causing him to flee scared but this claim faced online ridicule. Under pressure to come up with evidence, Gary made a return to the area. The documentary deals with what happened.
Horror in the High Desert was the seventh film for Dutch Marich. All of Marcih’s other films are in the horror genre with the likes of Bleed Out (2011), Hunting (2015), The Dark Hand (2016), Miserable Sinner (2018), Infernum (2019) and Reaptown (2020). Most of these appear to either be low-budget or not well distributed, which has meant that Marich has slipped under this site’s radar until now.
Horror in the High Desert is a Found Footage film. Well technically in that two-thirds of it is talking heads interviews, it is also a Mockumentary, before seguing into the Found Footage aspect in the latter third of the show. The film was shot in 2020 during the midst of the Corona Virus pandemic. The film’s format seems uniquely suited to shooting in isolation with the entire film consisting of only one person on screen at a time.
The film is on the slight side. Most of it consists of these talking heads interviews building up a mystery about what happened to Gary. This flips back and forward between the same characters and some occasional footage from Eric Mengis’s Gary on his treks out in the desert. All of this creates a mystery that builds to the twist that reveals what happened. The mystery finally gets solved (sort of) at the end. The film is essentially the long layering of mystery towards a single boo moment, which comes out as okay, if nothing too much to write home about.
In the end, [PLOT SPOILERS] Horror in the High Desert proves to be a Backwoods Brutality film – of sorts. Although quite what is lurking in the backwoods is not made clear by the end of the film. That said, the film does fall into the same essential trope of people venturing into backwoods country and running afoul of the denizens there.
Particularly good is the sense the film gives you of just how isolated and distant backwoods Nevada is – with there being talk of Eric Mencis having to make three-day hikes to get back to the location and a fine scene where he points to a hill on the horizon and tells how he is vehicle is all the way back there on the other side.
Dutch Marich has announced a sequel Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva (2023)