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Gary Hinged (Movie Review)

by James William

Gary hinge is an outdoors and survival enthusiast who frequently blogs about his expeditions. He was pressured by his online followers to return to the desert to prove he wasn’t lying about a cave he had found.

He set out to hike to an unidentified section of the Great Basin Desert in late July 2017. His housemate and sister alerted police after he went missing two days into his trip.

The Story

During one of his many outdoor hiking excursions, Gary Hinge (Eric Mencis) discovers a mysterious cabin in the middle of nowhere. He is so unnerved by the experience that he decides to share it with his online audience in the form of a YouTube vlog. This ultimately proves to be a fatal decision as Gary later disappears in the desert.

Dutch Marich’s horror film is a pseudo-documentary that utilizes drone footage, fictional found footage, and a YouTube vlog as a storytelling device. By committing to this style of filmmaking, the audience is given full access to Gary’s terrifying story, while also allowing them to question their own trust in social media and vloggers. Because of this, the film feels very real and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.

The film starts off as a typical crime documentary with all the familiar tics such as breathless statements and over-dramatic build ups. However, when it shifts to showing the recovered footage from Gary’s final hike, the film quickly turns into a thriller with a strong dose of horror.

It is not clear what exactly happened to Gary, but it is implied that he was killed by a strange man who lived in the desert. The stranger supposedly possessed a sense of protection for the area and felt that it was vital to keep its secrets, which may explain why he acted so cruelly towards Gary.

The movie also suggests that Gary was a homosexual. Although he did not explicitly say so in his videos, it is implied that he was gay and was afraid to be outed in his small town community. This is further supported by the fact that his sister and roommate do not know he is gay. The movie also implies that the mysterious man who killed him may have been a deformed serial killer.

The film does a good job of establishing Gary’s character and personality through his videos and the interviews with his friends and family. He was a secluded person who preferred animals to people and seemed to feel a deep sense of isolation from the world around him. This secluded nature explains his dislike of social settings and his inability to make close friends.

The Cast

The film opens with the police “missing persons” report of Gary Hinge, a survivalist and outdoor enthusiast who disappeared in the high desert of Nevada. The narrative then flashbacks to a previous expedition of Gary’s, in which he filmed his encounter with a shack that was mysteriously burnt down with no explanation. The video prompted speculation among online followers, who drew connections to Area 51, government secrets, and unknown dark secrets.

As a result, Gary’s sister Beverly hired private detective William “Bill” Salerno to investigate the disappearance and find out what happened to her brother. She also campaigned to keep the case on the front page of news channels, fearing it would be forgotten and dismissed as a cold case.

Bill discovers that Gary’s last reported sighting was when he returned to his vehicle after three days of trekking in the wilderness. He swore that he had seen a figure standing outside his tent moving around at night, but he was too scared to call the authorities. He also noted that he had found a trail of barefoot footprints near the burned cabin, suggesting someone had been there recently.

When he goes back to the cabin site to look for the footprints, he is attacked by an unseen creature that he assumes is a cannibalistic witch with severe physical deformities. Bill then tries to find him and finds a partially burned out structure surrounded by bloody footprints.

Despite the warnings of his roommate, Gary insists on going back to the burned out cabin to see what was inside. This leads to him being dragged away by the creature, while Bill frantically tries to fight it. Eventually, the beast is able to pull Gary into its burning mouth and rip out his stomach.

Horror in the High Desert is a slow burn mockumentary with a small and inexperienced cast, but it has an excellent twist ending that conveys the sense of dread inherent in the uncovered footage. Director Dutch Marich also delivered the bone-chilling film REAPTOWN, and his approach to found footage horror works well in this movie.

The Setting

In 2021 Horror in the High Desert director Dutch Marich terrified found footage fans with his pseudo-documentary about the disappearance of outdoor survival enthusiast Gary Hinge in Nevada’s vast desert. The film combines the veracity of true crime with the terror of found footage to create an incredibly unsettling story that feels almost entirely real and then plunges into gory horror.

The story begins when Gary leaves his New Ruth home on a hiking expedition into the desert, heading toward a cabin that he had visited before. When he doesn’t return his sister Beverly reports him missing to the police, and they begin searching for him. During the search they discover that his truck has been moved, and they believe that someone has deliberately hidden him and then used his phone to ping his location so that the authorities wouldn’t find him.

As the investigation continues they learn more about Gary’s personality and lifestyle, learning that he is an introverted individual who prefers to live alone and spends most of his time on survival expeditions that last for days. He also has a YouTube channel where he posts videos of his adventures, and it becomes clear that he is heavily influenced by the enthusiasm of his subscribers. He once reported that he had entered a cave and discovered that it had an extremely scary atmosphere, and that the walls seemed to move when he went into it.

It also becomes apparent that Gary has been feeling rejected by people in his life, and is very isolated. His reclusive nature exacerbates his feelings of isolation, and this is further highlighted when private investigator Bill discovers that Gary is in a relationship with a man, a situation which Gary does not disclose in any of his videos.

As the movie progresses it becomes increasingly clear that something is stalking Gary in the desert, and that he is slowly becoming a victim of it. The film does a remarkable job of building tension, and its use of night vision cameras to make even the most mundane objects look menacing is particularly effective. The ending is not entirely satisfying, as it does not provide all of the answers that the audience might want, but it leaves enough unexplained to be truly terrifying and to set up a possible sequel.

The Finale

Gary Hinge is a cheerful outdoorsy survival enthusiast who regularly hikes into the desert to record his experiences for his huge internet following. On one occasion, he discovers an unsettling little cabin that fills him with a sense of foreboding. He shares this with his audience in a video but when he receives a barrage of critical comments, demanding more evidence and berating him for going against his gut instincts, he decides to return to the desert and record his experience again, in an effort to prove himself.

The film starts off as a pseudo-documentary styled mockumentary, with all the usual tics of this format, including breathless statements and overdramatic buildups but this soon morphs into pure horror. Shaky camera work, burnt and blurred infrared footage and a great use of disorienting background noises all add to the film’s overall creepy atmosphere. It is also a very effective way to build up the mystery of what happened to Gary.

Eventually, we find out that he is no longer alive. His mutilated camera clutching hand is never found but the location of the strange cabin in the middle of the desert is. This is where the film really gets exciting.

Once Gary’s story hits the internet, other vloggers and social media influencers start to travel to the desert in order to document their own experiences with the mysterious shack and hopefully capture some footage of the man who attacked Gary. As they arrive at the location, they start to discover that it is actually a sacred Native American site and that something supernatural is lurking there.

In the end, we discover that it was the mysterious shack all along and Gary’s death was not in vain. A deformed monstrous stranger can be seen slicing off Gary’s hand in the final scene, proving that his gut instincts were right after all.

The shaky camera work, eerie background noises and the deformed monstrous killer all combine to create an incredibly creepy and frightening ending to this movie. It is an effective and exciting way to wrap up this faux documentary/found footage horror flick.

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