Directed by Matthew Ninaber.
Starring Jeremy Ninaber, Ethan Mitchell, Kristen Kaster.
Horror, Canada, 91 minutes.

Streaming on Shudder from December 9th


After making such an impression as the titular Psycho Goreman earlier this year Matthew Ninaber slides over into the directors’ chair for this mix of creature feature and war film. Beginning with the familiar staple of a facility coming into lockdown, all blaring sirens, flashing red lights and a lone female trying to escape through a descending shield door, DEATH VALLEY seemingly shows all its cards straight away as the cause of all this trouble is revealed. A monstrous creature is on the loose and Ninaber decides to put him front and centre right away, displaying it all in its prosthetic splendour.


This beginning sequence seems to suggest we may in for an old school horror actioner that filled up many a video library shelf when there was such a thing. The presence of Ninaber behind the camera after his starring turn in PSYCHO GOREMAN, which celebrated on-camera effects and make up in all their glory, would enforce that. It comes as a slight disappointment when straight after this opening sequence, the plot involving a group of soldiers being deployed to the Eastern European facility to rescue the bioengineer who deployed a rescue alert, seems more interested in settling into low budget war fare than it does its more interesting horror aspects.


Cue a lengthy sequence where our two main protagonists, soldier and family man Beckett and his wisecracking buddy Marshall run around a non-descript forest shooting at numerous baddies with cliched European accents who see very interested in getting into the facility for their own nefarious means. Once our heroes gain access to the bunker, they soon see why they have been given a limited time to rescue Chloe once they run into the large bloodthirsty creature, also played by Ninaber, that has been causing so much death and destruction within the bunker and is capable of unleashing so much more if it makes its way outdoors.


DEATH VALLEY is very run of the mill, from its unflashy direction to its by the numbers storytelling. With its numerous scenes of armed soldiers running round corridors chasing, or being chased, by nightmarish creatures it resembles the long running franchise of RESIDENT EVIL. With its low budget the film can never really stretch itself beyond the impressive looking creature at the heart of it, falling back on obvious CGI to fill in its FX gaps. There are a couple of interesting ideas at play here regarding the creature’s origins that suggest an ambition in Ninaber’s script that due to a limited budget and resources can not be put on full display here.


Everything else runs competently enough although it really does fail to make any impression at all. It runs along smoothly showing that Ninaber knows how to pace his material as well as framing it. Those in the mood for nothing more than a nuts-and-bolts horror action b-movie could certainly do worse but nestled away on Shudder as it is there are a lot more worthwhile options on there to pass the time in such a manner.


Iain MacLeod.


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