Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Miracle Valley

My notes on Miracle Valley

Directed by, written by and starring Greg Sestero – best known for being in The Room and then writing The Disaster Artist (Dave Franco played him in the film) – this is a 1970s-style creepy cult-in-the-desert film, though it’s more likely to be mentioned in the same breath as Invasion of the Blood Farmers or Shriek of the Mutilated than Race With the Devil or The Hills Have Eyes.  It has a mess of ideas – some decent, some dreadful – and a nice look, making good use of Arizona locations, but it’s one of those horror movies which just never adds up … the characters fail to convince on any level, and all the bad decisions they make are motivated by a need to get to the next scene rather than any sense of people in a bad situation making things worse.

In a prologue, Erika (Louisa Torres) turns up for a job interview after dark in a depopulated border town and is abducted by syringe-wielding shadowmen.  Then, we meet sulky Sarak (Angela Mariano) and her asshole wildlife photographer boyfriend David (Sestero) who are being nasty to each other in the car while driving to a weekend break David has mysteriously won in an isolated house on land where there was once a scary blood cult who made trouble years earlier.  On the road, the couple are hassled by a motorcyclist – who then turns up at the house to demand an apology from David and is revealed as mid-sixtyish Marlboro Man-type Father Jake (Rick Edwards), who invites them to a spiritual healing seminar.  David has been lured by the chance to photograph a never-before-snapped bird and Sarah’s plans for a whole weekend of nagging and complaining are sidelined by the appearance of a) a bunch of their big city friends who want to party and b) a parade of giggling locals who are definitely still in that blood cult.  Oh, and it’s possible Sarah’s blood has magic properties.

Edwards has presence as a tough nut OAP who keeps taking his shirt off, but the film flounders worst when it tries for depth – as with an annoying detour into anti-abortion lecturing – between the familiar rite of having horrible people messily slaughter each other in protracted just-shoot-the-bastard-already scenes.  It’s full of maniacs who’d be too broad for an H.G. Lewis film and irksome little details like why would a mad scientist put up their own abduction victim’s ‘missing person’ poster in his laboratory let alone whatever vampirish thing is going on with the guff about three pure miracle bloodlines (only two represented) and the robed idiots standing about whenever anything goes down.

Here’s the FrightFest listing.


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