As far as movies go, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a slow-burning thriller. That is, of course, so long as the climax of the film justifies the slowly building tension. When it comes to atmosphere and character building, I know not everyone agrees but me personally? I love a more relaxed pace and a steady build - before that final one-two punch to the guts. Even if you pretty much already think you know the outcome of a film, so long as the ending works, the rest of the film is just the gravy - and I'm pretty sure that this is something the folks behind "The Alpines" obviously knew and aimed for.
In the film, seven long-time friends meet up for a weekend of shenanigans and good times. The trip is meant as a "catch up" affair. Over the years, the original crew has grown apart, and for some, it's been a few years since they've met in person. It all starts innocently enough, and it's very clear some of these guys and gals may appear to be friends on the outside, but the true nature of their relationship is not quite so defined. Still... seven twenty-somethings visiting a cottage in the woods sounds like a blast - unless of course, you happen to be into horror movies. If you are, you would probably suspect something is up. You'd be right.
After we jangle around a little, getting to know the players, things eventually start to happen within the cabin in the woods. The crew realizes that the invitations they all got didn't come from who they said they were from. Then, we have that ominous message written in what appears to be blood - scrawled into the attic wall. Suddenly, this trip feels less like a party - especially when you realize that pretty much everyone has a secret and nobody is quite what they seem. As you may have guessed, things begin to escalate, and by the time the credits roll... well, reader, I was left pretty speechless. Not because what ended up happening was a game-changing shock - the clues are pretty apparent. Rather because of the way everything goes down. As I said, this film has a wicked ending that was totally worth the wait.
From a technical standpoint? I really don't have much to say except well done to both the cast and crew. As far as low-budget film goes, "The Alpines" stands pretty damn tall. Having most of the film take place in and around one location was a smart one that paid off in spades. It's tight, atmospheric, and best of all? Save a moment from time to time of some slightly over-the-top drama - the acting is splendid. The story and dialog itself? Let me just write that Mally Corrigan, who wrote this film has some real talent - and leave it at that.
Now, to be clear, this isn't a lightning-fast film as I've hinted at above. It's a slower, tenser build-up than some may find a little calm for their tastes - and the thriller/horror aspects come more from the characters themselves than any real amount of gore. But when you consider the large cast, a slower build was pretty much the only way to approach this movie without it becoming a depthless ordeal. Add in the fact that this movie focuses on secrets and interactions; the slower approach worked like a charm, and Dante Aubain's direction made sure that creeping feeling of dread remained throughout. For anyone who appreciates an old-school movie experience that relies on story instead of effects and fast cuts - this one is for you.
At the end of the day? "The Alpines" is indeed a thriller, but one that focuses on people and their relationships rather than some supernatural or serial-killer premise. It's about the secrets we all keep from even our best friends - and the ever-present feeling of being alone and left out. People and relationships. I absolutely loved this movie - what more needs to be said? Four and a half stars.