When Gary hinge disappears while on a backcountry hiking excursion, his sister alerts the police. Authorities use his truck pings to search the area, but find no trace of him.
Fans of Gary, who goes by the alias Scorpion Sam on YouTube, begin to follow his trail. But campers discover his severed hand, clutching a camera.
Gary Hinge is a hiker who disappears in the desert while filming a YouTube video. His sister, Beverly, reports him missing, and police launch a search. Eventually, they find his truck with numerous footprints in the bed that do not match Gary’s. They also find a backpack with his severed hand still holding the camera.
The police enlist the help of Bill Salerno, who is a private investigator. He is a brash man who brags about his ability to expose a closeted gay man to the less than accepting townsfolk in order to get them to do his bidding. He is also very familiar with the area in which Gary disappeared, having previously investigated another missing person case involving a remote cabin.
It turns out that Gary was an adventurer and survival expert who had many YouTube followers. His videos often featured him exploring the wilderness and finding secluded cabins, some of which he claimed were haunted. The police suspect that Gary’s disappearance could be linked to one of his vlogs, and they begin investigating the locations where he had previously visited.
As the months go by, a few clues are uncovered. Some of the vlogs that he had been working on feature him visiting the desert, where he talks about a secluded cabin with a fireplace. Others include him talking about how the desert has a weird, scary smell.
Despite the many hints, the police are unable to locate Gary. As time passes, his family and followers become increasingly obsessed with figuring out what happened to him. Some of them even decide to visit the desert and try to find his body.
Horror in the High Desert is a very creepy film, thanks to the way it uses the pseudo-documentary format to build up the mystery of what happened to Gary. The film’s narrative is mostly comprised of interviews with different people who knew him, as well as some footage from Eric Mencis of Gary hiking in the desert. All of this builds up to a big twist that is both inventive and effective.
During one of his routine hikes through the desert Gary Hinge, a cheerful outdoorsy survival enthusiast, comes across an uncanny little cabin. When a sense of impending dread overtakes him he quickly flees the site. Troubled and unnerved by this experience Gary shares his story with his large online following via an internet blog. He is met with a barrage of critical comments either discrediting his claim or demanding evidence. In an effort to legitimize his claims Gary returns to the desert and visits the cabin again, this time in hopes of recording it.
While the movie never explicitly says so, it is likely that Gary’s demise was inspired by the real-life disappearance of hiker Kenny Veach (aka snakebitmgee). The two cases share many similarities such as: both hiking content creators were pressured by their followers to revisit mysterious finds, both were found dead in a remote desert area, and both were killed by a disfigured monstrous stranger.
The movie does a good job of establishing Gary’s personality and character through anecdotes and his own blog recordings. It is revealed early on that Gary prefers animals and nature over people, which suggests he is an introverted individual who suffers from social rejection and isolation. His eccentric interests and hobbies also support this theory, with him enjoying such things as building model trains and going on survivalist trips into the wilderness with only a backpack and the basics of supplies.
After Gary visits the eerie little cabin again, he is met with an even more hostile reaction from his online followers. A number of his followers demand that he record his visit, while others call him out for lying. Despite the criticism Gary decides to return to the desert and visit the cabin once again. This time, however, he is killed by a disfigured monster who sever’s his arm.
It isn’t clear what exactly happened to Gary in the end, but it seems that he was taken advantage of by the deformed monster who wanted to protect the cabin and its secrets. Marich’s film is a well-crafted pseudo-documentary that manages to balance the veracity of true crime with the terror of found footage.
In this pseudo-documentary, Gary Hinge (Eric Mencis) is a survivalist and outdoor enthusiast who often hikes in the desert. On one occasion, he discovers a cabin in the middle of nowhere that gives him a feeling of impending doom and dread. He decides to share his experience on his internet blog and is met with a barrage of criticism from people who claim that his account is not authentic. This drives him to return to the area where he originally found the unsettling cabin, in order to prove that his experience was genuine.
His sister Beverly (Tonya Williams Ogden) and her roommate Simon Rodgers are both concerned for Gary when he heads out on survivalist trips into the desert. He leaves with a bare minimum of supplies and relies on the wilderness to provide everything that he needs. The film takes a fairly in-depth look at Gary’s personal life and the way that his interests and hobbies contribute to his sense of isolation and rejection from other people.
After returning from his hiking excursion, Gary is not seen for weeks and his sister alerts the authorities that he is missing. They begin a search for him but are unable to locate him despite several attempts to ping his cell phone. After a month, Gary’s family begins to lose hope that they will ever find him and decide to move on with their lives.
Three years later, Gary’s disappearance still remains a mystery. A documentary team decides to interview his friends and family members in the hopes of uncovering new leads. They also use footage of Gary’s final moments, which were recorded on his camera.
This film makes a good effort to establish Gary’s personality and character through anecdotes and his own blog recordings. It seems that he was a reclusive individual who favored animals and nature over people, which explains why he has such a hard time making friends. The film’s ultimate reveal, however, is that the man in the woods who caused Gary’s gruesome death is simply a dangerous and physically abnormal person who doesn’t want to be seen.
Three years ago outdoors and survival enthusiast Gary Hinge disappeared in the Nevada high desert. Despite a massive months-long police search, no trace of him has been found. Now, a faux documentary crew is interviewing his family and friends in the hope of uncovering new leads. But, as the film progresses, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary investigation.
Horror in the High Desert (2021) is a pseudo-documentary style mystery horror that follows the inexplicable disappearance of Gary Hinge. The indie flick gleefully employs its subject’s menacing location and long stretches of intimidating emptiness to generate an exceptionally unnerving sense of tension. The movie is also adept at using the fictional talking heads and found footage narrative technique made famous by The Blair Witch Project to arouse uncontrollable anticipation and tap into the instinctive anxiety associated with not being able to see well in the dark.
While director Marich doesn’t allude to it directly, the plot of this movie is likely inspired by a real-life hiker named Kenny Veach who went missing in 2014. Veach, who was known online as snakebitmgee, had posted a series of YouTube videos in which he claimed to have discovered a cave that felt like a maze. His subscribers urged him to return and explore the cave, but he refused, citing an overwhelming feeling of impending danger.
Simon, Gary’s roommate and co-host of the YouTube video show, is a guy who loves model trains. He also enjoys taking survivalist trips into the wilderness, packing only the bare necessities and relying on nature to provide him with everything he needs. This lifestyle puts a strain on his relationship with Beverly, who worries about him going out into the wilderness alone.
The film reveals that after Hinge’s disappearance, social media influencers and other hikers began to visit the site of his last recorded expedition in order to document their own experiences there. Some of them claim to have seen a strange figure in the distance, while others report being attacked by a mysterious creature. The film’s final title card reveals that the filmmakers are working on a sequel to this movie, so it’s likely that Gary’s fate will be explored further in the future.