‘Death Valley’ Blu-Ray Review – The DIY Horror Movie Is Improved With Practical Effects

In DEATH VALLEY, mercenaries with nothing to lose are hired to rescue a bioengineer imprisoned in a Cold War bunker. Upon entering the ominous facility, they find themselves in a fight for their lives, attacked by an unknown and deadly creature. DEATH VALLEY, from writer-director Matthew Ninaber (whom you loved as Psycho Goreman), is “a crazy time you don’t want to miss”. (Disgusting blood).

For thoughts on death valley, please see our discussion on The Video Attic:

Video quality

death valley debuts on Blu-Ray with a 1080p presentation in its original aspect ratio that captures the film quite well. The film itself has a natural color palette that’s particularly vibrant when it comes to daytime environments, but even the darkest scenes reveal a fair amount of detail and clarity. Granted, there’s a slight loss of detail in fast panning shots, but that’s not a huge issue anywhere. The film relies on darkness to create tension at various points, and the deep black levels help maintain the illusion of the story. There are streaks of light in some of the darker moments, but the objects hold up quite well in the shadows and retain their depth.

There’s no doubt that this was shot on a shoestring budget, but visually the film has very few shortcomings. The transfer allows this world to have a texture that makes it more authentic. Blood Buckets impress both aesthetically and narratively. There is no obvious damage or detectable digital noise in this transfer. There aren’t many moments that will jump off the screen, but it’s a rock solid video presentation overall.

Audio quality

The film arrives on Blu-Ray with a more than capable DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. The movie provides a solid workout for your surround setup, especially in the environmental sounds which provide a very immersive atmosphere for the story. These channels get pleasant activity both during the outdoor scenes in the woods and inside the base for any time leading up to a horrible moment. The bottom of the track is especially active during moments of gunfire and other creature violence. Dialogue and sound effects are well balanced with the music where fidelity is maintained. This piece is quite precise and effective, and will be appreciated by horror fans who will get this disc. SDH English subtitles are provided.

Special Features

  • Comment from the cast and crew: Director Matthew Ninaber and cast Jeremy Ninaber and Jacqueline Ninaber provide an entertaining commentary track in which they discuss the difficulties of filming during a pandemic, the very uncomfortable weather conditions, the DIY nature of much of the production, continuity errors due to the reassignment of certain sequences. and more. It helps give some insight into the rickety nature of the movie.
  • Behind the scenes of death valley: A 17-minute making-of that’s actually quite substantial as it tackles the realities of film development during the pandemic, involving cast members outside of the family, costume design, set construction, etc

Final Thoughts

death valley is impressive when taken in the context of what this dedicated group of creatives achieved during one of the most difficult times in modern history. The scale they’re able to give this film with their limited means, along with the great practical effects, really helps elevate the film as a whole. Unfortunately, the appreciation only takes you so far when you find yourself distracted by some of the unconvincing performances. There’s a lot to like about this one, but there are some core issues that keep it from being truly great. RLJE Films has released a Blu-Ray with a solid A/V presentation and some solid special features that help you enjoy the movie better.

death valley is currently available for purchase on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital.

Note: Images shown in this review do not reflect Blu-Ray image quality.

Disclaimer: RLJE Films has provided a free copy of this disc for review purposes. All opinions expressed in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

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