With a Himalayan Peak as its Killer, The Summit Is a Documentary with the Pulse of a Horror Film

With a Himalayan Peak as its Killer, <i>The Summit</i> Is a Documentary with the Pulse of a Horror Film

Coming down is the hard part, most mountain climbers will tell you, a maxim proved to tragic effect in August 2008, when 11 of 25 experienced adventurers from five different countries perished while descending from the top of K2, the mighty Himalayan peak. The 11 died, one by one, in a series of mishaps that defy climbing logic. In this enthralling if slightly uneven documentary, director Nick Ryan and screenwriter Mark Monroe (The Cove) use survivor testimony, footage shot by the climbers themselves, and seamlessly integrated reenactments to create a plausible scenario for what might have happened. The Summit is at its most powerful when the filmmakers simply tell the tale, which gradually develops the unsettling suspense of a horror movie, with K2 cast as the implacable killer. Many bodies are left on the mountain, but when the living reach the base, the filmmakers soldier on, interviewing survivors and their loved ones in an attempt to separate fact from myth. It's a noble effort, but by wading into the murky waters of who acted heroically, and who, perhaps, did not, Ryan loses touch with the mountain itself, which took 11 lives on a "perfect day," and whose majesty, despite that body count, remains an irresistible draw.

Critics' Pick Critics' Pick

Location Info


Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

1886 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: West 60s

Landmark Sunshine Cinema

143 E. Houston St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Lower East Side


The Summit
Directed by Nick Ryan
Sundance Selects
Opens October 4, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast


Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Box Office Report

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!