A desert hiker named Gary Hinge disappeared after going to a remote cabin in Nevada. Despite the case being closed, social media users began to recreate his trip to the cabin and document their own experiences.
This film uses fictional interviews and found footage to tell the story of what happened to Gary. It is a slight and slow moving movie, but it works towards building up to one boo moment.
What Happened to Gary Hinge?
A few days after he disappeared, Gary Hinge sent a final video to his YouTube followers. He said he was going back to the desert to revisit a cabin he had visited in the past. When he never returned, his sister Beverly and roommate Simon reported him missing to the police. They began searching for him, but they soon gave up hope. Gary often traveled with the bare necessities, which left him vulnerable to the area’s harsh environment and dangerous wildlife. Additionally, his tendency to travel alone exposed him to possible predators and abandoned mines.
After several days went by without any news, the police stopped the search. They determined his chances of survival were incredibly slim, especially since the time of year was the hottest of the year. Beverly hired private investigator William “Bill” Salerno to continue the investigation. Gal Roberts, a local journalist, was also involved in the case. She feared that the story would be forgotten over time, and she campaigned for it to be covered frequently.
Horror in the High Desert is a pseudo-documentary that utilizes fictional talking head interviews, beautiful landscape footage and the found footage narrative style popularized by The Blair Witch Project to elicit unbearable anticipation and tap into our primal fear of not knowing what’s lurking in the dark. The film does a great job of creating suspense by establishing the characters and setting up the conflict. It then slowly builds up to a shocking conclusion that reveals the true identity of Gary’s killer and his horrific act of violence.
Although the film doesn’t explicitly state it, it’s clear that this story is based on the real-life disappearance of hiking content creator Kenny Veach (Snakebitmgee) in 2014. Like Gary Hinge, Veach was a popular hiker who was pressured by his online following to revisit an unexplored area of the desert and document their findings. Veach’s disappearance was a mystery, and speculation included everything from a supernatural encounter to Area 51 secrets being hidden in the cave.
The film ends with a black title card informing viewers that social media influencers and users were attempting to uncover the truth about what happened to Gary Hinge. They were documenting their excursions in hopes of locating the mysterious shack and finding the man who attacked the vlogger.
In 2021, Gary Hinge disappeared after failing to return home from an excursion into the deserted Nevada high desert. His roommate, Simon, and sister Beverly report him missing to the police, who begin investigating his disappearance. The investigation begins with interviewing the people closest to Gary, such as his family and roommate. Eventually, the police are led to discover a videotape Gary made that revealed a disturbing event from his last hiking trip.
During his last excursion, Gary came across a cabin in the middle of nowhere and had a strange experience that disturbed him. He claims to have felt like he was being watched and even heard a voice chanting in distortion. He decided to make a YouTube video about his experience, but instead he ended up losing his life in the middle of the wilderness.
While the film may seem to be a documentary, it is actually a horror flick that is heavily inspired by real-life events. It is likely that director Dutch Marich was also influenced by the 2014 disappearance of another YouTube influencer, Kenny Veach. Like Gary, Veach had amassed a large following on social media and was under pressure from his fans to return to the location of an alleged puzzling find.
The first thing we learn about Gary is that he is an extreme hiker and survivalist who flies solo on wilderness trips without any backup. He has a deep love of trains and often takes model trains out on the trail with him to enjoy the scenery. When he isn’t hiking, he’s doing survivalist videos for his subscribers.
In one of his latest videos, Gary reveals that he was planning to revisit the area where he found the cabin because it had given him an eerie feeling. While he is preparing to leave for the hike, he hears a voice in the distance that sounds like it’s being chanted in distortion.
The voice is soon accompanied by a deformed monstrous stranger who attacks Gary. The scene ends with the horribly disfigured monster severing Gary’s arm.
Gary was an avid hiker and survivalist who loved to travel the desert in his truck with the bare essentials. He also built model trains and had a passion for extreme thrill seeking. He was a very intelligent man who was considered highly gifted by those who knew him. He had a very unique personality and his sense of humor was dark and twisted. He was an outcast in a world that was largely hostile to his homosexuality. He found an outlet through his blog and his dedicated followers who loved his quirky interests and personality quirks.
He was also an amateur photographer and loved to take pictures of the desert landscape. His pictures would be used on his social media accounts to give followers a taste of the adventure that he was experiencing. It was during one of these trips that he discovered the mysterious cabin in the middle of the desert. This was the location where he would have his most horrific encounter that ultimately led to his murder.
Initially, he made a YouTube video where he claimed that he had a supernatural experience at the mysterious cabin. However, he received criticism from his audience due to the fact that the experience was not true. This caused him to reconsider and decide to return to the site. This proved to be a fatal mistake, as he was never seen again.
The film does a great job of establishing Gary’s character and personality through the use of anecdotes and his own blog recordings. The secluded way that he lived his life suggests that he was feeling a great deal of social rejection and isolation. His varied interests and hobbies only exacerbated these feelings of otherness and detachment.
While it is not explicitly stated in the movie, it is implied that Gary was attacked by a person who believed that his presence was disturbing. This explains the cruelty displayed by his attacker, as well as the stench of smoke and the dizzying music that accompanied the attack. It is also possible that the disfigured individual was a ghost from the area’s past who saw Gary as an intruder into a sacred place.
During one of his regular hikes in the desert, cheerful outdoorsy survival enthusiast Gary Hinge stumbles upon a suspicious little cabin. Though he immediately leaves, the encounter troubled and unnerves him, and he decides to share his experience with his vast audience on his internet blog. This elicits a swarm of critical remarks either refuting his assertion or demanding further evidence, so in an attempt to prove himself Gary goes back out into the desert, this time with the intention of recording the unsettling cabin. He is soon killed by a weird man possibly the proprietor of the cabin, who slits his camera hand off.
Being gay in a hostile and homophobic environment can be tremendously isolating and alienating, making people feel like social pariahs for no inherent fault of their own. For Gary, his blog offers an escape from this feeling of exclusion, and it’s not hard to see why he comes to rely on it for emotional fulfillment.
While the filmmakers haven’t explicitly alluded to it, Horror in the High Desert appears to be inspired by the real-life disappearance of a hiking content creator named Kenny Veach. Much like Gary, Veach was an active member of online hiking content communities who was pressured to return to a mysterious cabin in the Nevada desert in an effort to prove himself.
This sequel takes a step away from the story of Gary Hinge and instead focuses on two other missing person cases, geology student Minerva ’Minnie’ Sound and single mother Ameliana. Using voice-over ’journalism’, shaky close-ups of the desert floor, and a growing mythology, the film manages to create an eerie atmosphere that feels just as expansive as the empty desert in which it’s set.