Mercenaries for hire, James and Marshall are tasked with rescuing a scientist from an underground bunker in order to obtain the research she holds. However, the complex is crawling with deadly creatures that hunt by sound, and a violent militia group is also vying for the coveted information. Gunsblazing, the two enter the fortress only to find it crawling with violent creatures that hunt by sound – explosive firearms essentially f***ed. Can the two tap into the power of the ‘bro’ to overcome the deadly force? Of course, but it is about the journey to get there that makes it a worthwhile trip into Death Valley.
“Death Valley” is not a film that wins any points for originality, with a set-up that is engrained in the sci-fi action genre. In particular, the production carries a heavy 90s influence; oozing with machismo, poorly written dialogue, and a script riddles with plot holes. By the end of the film, there will be more questions than answers, the final twist proving to be particularly perplexing. That said, the film does enough to keep itself engaging and lively.
Leaning more on action than horror, the creepy creatures hidden away in the bunker don’t significantly become a presence until about half an hour into the film. Instead, viewers are gifted with a high octane gunfight in the wood, featuring some effectively dizzying camerawork – even this does not stop the process of male bonding as the two ‘bros’ trade quips. In fact, the playful and campy dialogue extends throughout the entire film, relying on the strength granted by bromance to carry them through their inexplicable circumstances – not even sexy scientist lady able to break this bond.
Nevertheless, the performances are rather stiff and one-note, with Kristen Kaster as Chloe being the only one showcasing a notable range. However, the rather one-note performances help keep the tone of the film more in line with 90s cheese. Both Jeremy Ninaber & Ethan Mitchell let their natural charisma shine throughout the film – it would be welcomed to see both in more action-heavy feature films in the future.
As a horror film, the production lacks scares, yet still injects enough gore to please those looking for a more visceral experience. However, it is the monster design in Death Valley that best encapsulates the charm of horror from a bygone era – never underestimate the power of an actor in a well-made suit. From the images of the infected banging their head on the wall to the large daunting abominations dragging people into the dark, the creatures embody a menace that fits perfectly into the action heavy horror flick.
The setting of an underground bunker compliments the constant sense of claustrophobia and nasty abominations lurking in the dark. The ability to navigate these tight spaces speaks to the cinematography of Brent Tremaine, as there is a clarity to the action that can often get lost when shooting in confined and dark spaces. It is undeniable that the location works wonderfully and cinematography played a substantial role in bringing the production to life.
Overall, Death Valley is the ideal popcorn flick for the viewer who loves a mix of action and horror – there is never a dull moment. As long as you are willing to turn your brain off and just indulge, it is a wonderfully entertaining addition to the Shudder exclusive line-up.
Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.