As I prepare to begin my annual look at the films and program of the Unnamed Footage Festival, a festival like no other that I take true pleasure in covering (last year I covered it right here and in previous years I covered some titles for other sites), it’s only fitting that I preemptively strike with a film that is the follow up to a film I first saw at a previous iteration of the festival. It is doubly fitting, as this sequel is actually playing on the big screen at this year’s festival, as well. That film, now available on several VOD services and coming soon to Tubi, is Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva.
In this faux-doc horror film, we return to the Nevada desert for a second creepy tale of terror. Once again, journalist Gal Roberts (Suziey Block) leads us through the story with interviews, footage, and a variety of storytelling methods in another example of the best true crime documentary that wasn’t. In fact, if one were to turn this (or the previous) film on without knowing that it was fiction, you’d think it was a stellar and gripping true crime type documentary. Yet, in this case the story isn’t true… however, the scare are.
In fact, in this second installment of Horror in the High Desert, the horror is ramped up, as is the production value and storytelling. While the first was extremely effective, filmmaker Dutch Marich is clearly improving his skill and honing his craft. The scares, plot devices, and techniques are all a clear step up from the already stellar first film.
The story we’re told here centers primarily on the victim of a disturbing incident named Minerva (Solveig Helene). Through video footage and interviews, we learn the details of this bizarre, fascinating, and difficult case. There are moments in the footage that are particularly effective and affecting. In the end, we’re left with a head full of unsettling ideas and images.
But, there is also a second story told in the later parts of the film, focusing on a woman named Ameliana Brasher (Brooke Bradshaw), who vanishes the same night that Minerva died. Much of her story is shown through dashcam footage, which allows the filmmakers to use yet another medium to tell the story and really diversify the found footage elements of the story. While a much smaller part of the film as a whole, the story of Ameliana helps to set the stage for what was clearly a bad night in the desert.
The long and short of it is that filmmaker Dutch Marich is clearly becoming a master of the found footage/faux-doc medium. He and his crew worked to create a unique blend of methods and media that make this sequel an even more impressive film that its already fantastic predecessor. This found footage fan wants more… more films like this, more films that try other modes and styles, and perhaps even some real true crime coverage done in this masterful way.
A perfect film to excite me for the upcoming Unnamed Footage Festival and a great film for horror and thriller fans of all shapes and sizes, check out Horror in the High Desert 2: Minerva now, available to rent or buy on Amazon, Google Play, or YouTube.