film reel image

film reel image

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Death Valley 2021 * * * Stars


Let's get this right out of the way shall we. 2021's Death Valley has nothing to do with that desert place in Cali. I mean the title sounds cool but it was filmed in freaking Canada. But anyway, "Valley" is almost shapeless and butchered in its first act until it turns into The Descent with foot soldier mercenaries added. Hey, who doesn't want to take in a little demon speak with some gun-toting action (I do I do).

Death Valley is directed by Mr Matthew Ninaber. Channeling his inner John Carpenter a la the later years, Ninaber creates some claustrophobia and tension despite his monsters looking almost like advanced Halloween ensembles. His "Valley" doesn't have a happy ending nor does it bleed to the sanguine. Sometimes movies of the quarantine nature (like this one) can be effective that way.

Shot in a Syfy channel sort of way with its actors saying, "we gotta get out of here" and/or "let's keep moving" (it is what it is), Death Valley is about some hired guns who are sent in to rescue a bioengineer held captive via a middle of nowhere bunker. At said bunker is a creature predator with bad hygiene, a coarse voice, and a case of the albino. Chaos ensues with some harrowing fight sequences, a twist villain, some nervous tongue-in-cheek, and paradoxical remnants. The troupers featured in "Valley" (Ethan Mitchell, Jeremy Ninaber, Kristen Kaster) are obviously C-list but they sell scenes a little better than anyone in a recent, Bruce Willis actioner (yikes).

All in all, the best way to view Death Valley is to accept it for what it is. "Valley" is a bloodstained B-movie trying hard to push on its B-movie tropes (the budget, the costume designs, and the shooting locales were probably nil). "Valley of salts".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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