‘Valley of the Dead’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Sometimes zombie flicks can be really fun because of the cast and the location. If the cast has great banter and understands how to make certain aspects believable, the movie will be a fun ride. Unfortunately, Valley of the Dead misses the mark when it comes to believability and suspense throughout the entire movie. It is as generic as they come, even though it’s about a lawyer in the army trying to navigate through a piece of land where dead soldiers have become zombies. It didn’t really add anything to the genre, but instead just went through the motions to make it watchable. It draws from many other zombie films that had better execution.

Valley of the Dead, which is also called Malnazidos is a 2020 Spanish zombie action film directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro and set in the Spanish Civil War. A small group of sworn enemies must work together when they encounter flesh-eating zombies created in a Nazi experiment. There is some great camera work in the opening scene to show how brutal the Nazis were and how the experiment started. But, it soon fizzled towards the middle when they started to venture through the valley. They moved locations and then more and more zombies would show up until the third act which had a whole army. It felt as if it was escalating because it had to, and not because it worked for the story.

Zombie films are more suspenseful than anything because the anticipation is what would cause any form of tension. That’s what was severely lacking in this movie and it is what made me lose interest. Even though it has a short runtime, it felt like it was dragging on because it wasn’t engaging. The makeup for the zombies was fine but looked a bit cheap at times. On top of that, the kills weren’t that inventive and the blood didn’t look believable either. There was some great banter between characters, but ultimately it just wasn’t scary enough or unique to set it apart from other zombie flicks.

Valley of the Dead had some good moments, and some fun camera work at times, but lacked suspense. This movie just went through the motions of every other zombie film, but just in a different setting. The story wasn’t nearly strong enough to keep the audience engaged. At times, the humour was decent but some jokes didn’t really land. There was so much potential for this movie to actually highlight what happened at that time, but it glossed over the historical accuracy and filled it with the zombie storyline instead. There wasn’t a clear balance in the storytelling for audiences to connect with the story at all.

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