Downhill opens with a group of friends (Joe, Stephanie & another that stinks up the screen in the few minutes he’s around) preparing for some big mountain bike race. The group are getting in some practice now but it’s clear from the painfully acted conversation that they’re pretty much ready to go.
The next day during the big race, Joe finds his terrible actor friend lying badly hurt on the path.
Fast-forward a year, Joe has hung up the bike unable to see the fun of it since the death of his friend. He gets a Skype call from another friend, Pablo who along with Stephanie, manages to convince him to come & take part in a highly published & well paid race.
On route the pair run into a gang in a bar who cause them some trouble (I wonder if we’ll be seeing them later?) but eventually left them leave. At this stage it seems fairly clear that we’re looking at a kind of ‘crazed-gang hunting our bike riders’ movie. Straight-forward enough but hardly exciting…that is until Joe & Stephanie find an injured man while practising for the upcoming event.
The man can barely speak & seems to be suffering from some sort of skin infection. The pair try to help him but come under attack from the bar gang who seem more interested in the infected man then anything else.
Downhill really doesn’t seem to be sure about just what kind of film it wants to be. It mixes found-footage, gangs, body horror, infection & satanic rituals which makes for a very confusing watch.
The first half is incredibly boring spending far too much time making Joe seem like a sympathetic character only to destroy it all in an instant. These aren’t characters you’ll care about as their motivations are sketchy at best & their reactions often laughable.
The acting is really sub-standard stuff from the leads & even worse from most of the additional characters. You’ll be tempted to turn it off after the first 30 minutes but thankfully the movie does improve when the shit hits the fan. The sudden switch to an infection/body horror vastly improves the movie & the disease is particularly disgusting to look at. The violence & gore is very realistic as the biker gang have no qualms with meting out violent punishments.
However, their motivations are non-existent & the satanic edge that turns up in the latter few minutes just serves to make the story even more confusing.
It’s not very well-told with way too many questions remaining at the end. Still you can’t fault the second half on its entertainment value. It warms my horror heart to see a tentacle creature bursting out of someone’s chest.