Cathedrals will fall, the river will run red... and THE BIRD will be SLAUGHTERED!

REVIEW: Altar

– By LastBoneStands

A group of former college classmates embark on a camping trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains for a sort of college reunion. Bo, the younger brother of Maisy (one of the classmates) tags along with his trusty camera as a way to build a film project based on the camping trip. Along the way, one of the vehicles in the convoy breaks down. Of course, the campers in the car encourage the others in their group to go on without them. As one might expect, they meet a weird local on the road that seems to half-warn, half-threaten them about going further down the road. Ignoring the warning, the group gets lost and are forced to camp for the evening.

Based on what I’ve just described, I’m sure everyone is painting a picture for what type of film this will turn out to be. Here we go, another found footage film that hits all the marks on the “Horror-movie tropes checklist” and hauls out all the old clichés. Except, that isn’t exactly true.

While Altar may hit a lot of the same marks we’ve all seen a thousand times, there is a lot that differs from the boring run-of-the-mill shlock that’s out there. The most wonderful thing about this film is the hints at the mythology surrounding the events in the film.

The film begins with a brief prelude that briefly shows the fate of a newlywed couple that went “missing” during their honeymoon. This is also shot first person from a go-pro. What the couple stumbles upon is our first clue to what is going on and provides the viewers’ first glimpse at the titular altar.

We are never given the full story behind this altar, but the glimpses we are given speak volumes. It’s nice when just a few small scenes or a couple lines of dialogue can provide enough information that we get an idea about what is going on, but it’s not spoiled by heavy-handed, wink and a nod exposition. It also allows the mind to shape its own ideas regarding the backstory. Sometimes what we imagine is far more horrifying than what we are actually shown.

The Altar is definitely NOT your standard found footage film. There are some pretty good scares, sprinkled through the 2nd half of the film, and a nice little twist. The film’s ending is left open, and we are left remembering a certain line that was uttered in the prelude. Could a sequel be in order. I certainly hope so!

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