“Horror in the High Desert” recounts the disappearance of Gary Hinge, bridging the gap between hyper-realistic found footage horror films and the modern horrors of the influencer-fan relationship (Eric Mencis). The slow-burn mockumentary has a small, inexperienced cast, minimal editing, and little errors that add to the indie “documentary” vibe.
Although most viewers agree that the closing stretch nails the anxiety associated with found video, director Dutch Marich’s pandemic project has gotten mixed reviews. The real crime tone quickly dissolves into true dread as the film transitions from talking heads to finally displaying found footage of Hinge’s final trip.
Horror in the High Desert (2022)
It’s tough to figure out who his attacker was, why he was lured to that hut, and whether or not the reporter’s account was correct with only a severed hand and numerous choppy black-and-white clips to go on.
So, what happened at the conclusion of “Horror in the High Desert?”
Gary Hinge was assaulted.
While everyone in the mockumentary was eager to conclude, ‘Oh, it was simply a disfigured man hiding from society,’ that explanation did not satisfy many viewers. The smell of smoke, the whirling music he hears, and the impending sense of doom as he got closer were all seemingly written off with this explanation.
Hinge mentions abandoned mine holes and Native American relics near the beginning of the film. It’s reasonable to speculate that his assailant was a supernatural entity guarding a sacred location, given that this is a horror film with an open conclusion. While Hinge is truly enthusiastic about and appreciative of the locations he’s mapping, a past resident’s ghost may only regard him as an intruder who must be stopped.
If we accept that he was attacked by a social outcast, it’s not unreasonable to speculate that this desert dweller is a cannibal. After all, there’s a burning odor that Hinge, who is such an accomplished hiker that his friends refer to him as a “survivalist,” isn’t familiar with. Although his corpse was never discovered, campers discovered his cleanly severed hand. Perhaps that was the last of him.
Scorpion Sam’s fans claimed that aliens, witches, and spirits were responsible for his disappearance. Despite the fact that the investigation had been closed, many were still committed to discovering what had happened to Hinge at whatever cost.
In the High Desert, a real-life horror
While Marich hasn’t explicitly stated that the real-life disappearance of YouTuber Kenny Veach in 2014 influenced him, the similarities are far too striking to be a coincidence. Snakebitmgee, as Veach was known online, was a frequent contributor to hiking forums. Like Gary Hinge, the Nevada-based nature enthusiast was pressed by fans to return a puzzling discovery in order to establish that he was speaking the truth.
Veach, unlike Hinge, seemed to have just vanished, with no evidence of foul play or strange encounters. That hasn’t prevented internet users from speculating about Area 51, classified military knowledge, and undiscovered dark secrets that might have been hidden in the cave.
Given the similarities, it’s no surprise that “Horror in the High Desert” ends with social media fans and influencers attempting to track down Hinge’s last known whereabouts. These individuals were filming their adventures in the hopes of discovering the mysterious shack and the man who assaulted the vlogger. A black title card at the end of the film informs viewers that one of the groups is on pace to release their findings in 2022.
Marich stated that another film is in the works in an exclusive interview with Dread Central. “I have designs for a Horror in the High Desert Universe,” he remarked. Given the last title card, the social media angle, as well as the mystery surrounding Gary Hinge’s disappearance, will almost certainly be addressed further in the next film.