Because this is a film about the darkest days in New Zealand's long-time connection to the highest peak on the planet, it was always going to resonate here differently than in many parts of the world.
Elsewhere, possibly, it will be just another sub-zero survival thriller - a spectacle and a chance to experience what it might feel like at 8000 metres.
Or in this case, what it felt like to be stranded by a storm and slowly succumb to the cold and oxygen deprivation. It certainly does that.
It's both ear and eye-popping. Watching it in 3D, it's occasionally tempting to wipe the ice off your goggles.
But because of the story's New Zealand connections - this tells of the story of Rob Hall, who pioneered guiding fee-paying climbers to Everest and, to a lesser extent one of his guides, Andy Harris, and their part in the 1996 tragedy - this is a movie that certainly hits home.
All told, it's a sobering experience. One that might give us a chance to reconsider that enduring Everest triumphalism in our national ego from Sir Edmund Hillary's conquest.
It could even induce a whole new respect for - and puzzlement at - those very few of us who risk climbing that high.
It certainly takes an unflinching look at the sacrifices and mistakes that Hall and others, like his American counterpart Scott Fischer, made while guiding clients up Everest's crowded ridges.
The definitive book of the events that led to five deaths among Hall and Fischer's groups in May 1996 is the first-person account Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer, a journalist who was part of Hall's climbing party.
Krakauer is depicted in the film, occasionally asking searching questions. But the script draws from other sources and features a cast big enough to populate an old-time disaster film. It adds conjecture to what happened to some of those who perished and takes a wider, milder view than Krakauer of where the blame lay.
The film's main character-drivers are Hall himself (solidly played by Jason Clarke) and his American client, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin).
Fischer, who was the lead of another guided party, is played by Jake Gyllenhaal in a role that, surprisingly, isn't that prominent for all his star status. His impetuous mountain dude, however, provides a contrast to the methodical, stoic Hall, who, the movie reminds us early on, helped turn the ascent of Everest into a high-priced tourist trail.
The resulting over-crowding soon became yet another hazard as well as an environmental one, something the film touches upon.
But really, the movie is there to strand us on high with Hall and his party.
Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur certainly makes the summit ridge storm an immersive experience and there are vertigo-inducing thrills aplenty throughout, though in some scenes set lower down the mountain, the lighting can give away which scenes were shot on a soundstage.
It's not perfect in other ways.
The New Zealand accents of some - like Emily Watson as Hall's Base Camp boss Helen Wilton - will have us thinking: "Is that what we sound like to the rest of the world?" (Answer: Yes, we do. Let's be thankful there are no subtitles.)
Elsewhere, the scenes involving Robin Wright as Beck Weathers' take-control wife Peach back in Texas, seem like a sop to American audiences.
And a fair amount of time is spent unpacking all that exposition they've lugged up to Base Camp.
Some characters are introduced only to become undifferentiated figures in Gore-tex up in the "Deathzone", which may actually say something about the combination of fate and fitness that allowed some to survive and others to perish.
But that doesn't stop Everest becoming the most gripping non-doco mountaineering movie in many years.
It's also about a phone call.
Those here who recall the tragedy at the time will remember the power of how the last words were exchanged between Hall and wife Jan Arnold (here played by Keira Knightley), back in Christchurch.
So as much as it's an epic survival story, Everest manages to be a movie about saying a last goodbye.
More than the altitude, it's the emotional punch that leaves you feeling oxygen-deprived - and realising it's the build-up of moisture on the inside of those 3D glasses that's the problem, not the frost on the outside.
Verdict: Gripping, affecting, grand dramatisation of the 1996 Himalayan tragedy
Cast: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Rating: M (content may disturb)
Running time: 121 mins
Opens: September 17