Sometimes a filmmaker can wear their influences on their sleeve, which can be a good thing, particularly when they take from the people that inspired them and create something uniquely their own.
Though what’s often the case is that they end up mimicking the work of someone at the height of their powers, and it shows.
Nick Szostakiwsky (Archons) with Black Mountain Side manages to adroitly thread the needle, creating a movie that’s very evocative of John Carpenter’s The Thing, yet also manages to be it’s own thing.
And considering how thematically similar the two movies are, that’s quite a feat.
Both feature a group of men are isolated from civilization by distance and the unforgiving cold, menaced by an invisible menace till paranoia and mistrust pervades the camp.
What Black Mountain Side does that differentiates is that it introduces an element of ambivalence that isn’t present in John Carpenter’s movie.
In fact, it’s at it’s strongest when this element is present, and suffers when it isn’t (by which I mean when it decides to take a turn that brings it dangerously close The Thing, on top of all that other ways that they’re similar. It doesn’t ruin what came before, though it’s definitely muddies the waters in a way that undermines the narrative).
Though that’s a relatively minor caveat and Black Mountain Side remains a gorgeous homage to Carpenter’s classic and in my book makes Nick Szostakiwsky a director to keep an eye on.