Valley of the Dead is a new epic Zombie drama from Netflix Spain. The movie is set during the Spanish civil war and offers a reinterpretation of one of the most historic events in human history. Directed by Javier Ruiz Caldera and Alberto de Toro, it is a very underwhelming attempt that is neither meaningful nor does it feel like a war movie.
It begins by putting the characters into a problematic situation where Jan (Miki Esparbé) is tasked with delivering a secret envelope to Colonel Alarcos, commander of the sixth’s, along with Decruz, a seventeen-year-old novice boy while traveling through the buffer zone. Their priorities soon change when they are forced to work with their sworn enemies to increase their chances of survival against the flesh-eating infectious zombies created as a result of a Nazi experiment.
The problem with the movie is that it tries to sell the idea of a zombie outbreak without any explanation as it hurriedly covers up its origins with the word ‘experimentation’. It fails in integrating historical elements of the Spanish civil war, with the zombie-themed narrative, which on paper sounds like an exciting prospect. The Spanish civil war is already one of the darkest events in history, so when a movie promises to bring together the themes of history with the inclusion of zombies as the dead ‘bloodthirsty’ foe, an engaging tale is non-negotiable. It doesn’t do a very good job in that department as you never feel attached to most of the characters. Neither do the zombies feel like much of a threat despite their abnormal killing tendencies. Nazis as the enemies aren’t explored enough either as the ‘prophets of the unnatural phenomenon’.
The movie suffers from poor direction all over the place. The action scenes, in particular, are simply not up to the mark, with not much thought and creativity put into the gunfights that never look convincing enough, and so does the CGI. The sound design was disappointing as well.
As far as the storyline is concerned, the plot is very predictable and follows a convenient route so that things could fall into place. The movie features a large cast. It does surprisingly decent in distributing the screentime appropriately for each character, but they do come at an expense as some of the dialogues are shabby, such as the unnecessary quotation of phrases.
Miki Esparbé in the lead role of Jan is charming sometimes but he lacked the emotional depth in his character. Luis Callejo was also decent and featured for plenty amount of screentime. But it was some of the side cast members that were good in their respective roles, especially Álvaro Cervantes as Mecha and Manel Llunell as Decruz. They were there for only a limited amount of time but made the most of their role.
In general, the movie was below-par. It had a decent concept, but it was far from decent in its execution. An uncreative approach and poor writing lament the judgment that it’s probably for best to skip this one.
Final Score – [5.5/10]
Reviewed by - Devyansh Anand
Follow @AnandDevy on Twitter
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