Film: Wonder Valley
Director: Joseph Monahan
Writer: Creep Creepersin and Joseph Monahan
Starring: Suziey Block, David Michaelson and Natalie Pero
This film begins with a woman running across the desert. She stops and drops to her knees with a cellphone. It doesn’t work and she finds a pair of glasses. She screams for help when a man with a pickaxe comes up behind her. She is killed.
We then shift to a woman who is having a nightmare; she is played by Suziey Block. She sees images of blood, a figure with a covered face and herself running from something. She is covered in blood and her hands are tied in front of her. She wakes up from this dream and goes about getting ready for the day.
It turns out that it is her birthday and her best friend, played by Natalie Pero, is throwing her a party. Pero’s boyfriend shows up, he is played by David Michaelson. They are waiting on a friend of his to come as they are trying to hook him up with Block. When he does arrive, he is played by Charlie Vaughn. Michaelson and Pero go into a bedroom together leaving the other two to talk.
They hit it off and by the end of the night, they are friends. The four of them are the last ones at the party and they decide they should go away for spring break together. It is decided that they don’t want to go to the usual party spots. This is when Vaughn recommends that they go to a place in the desert he knows. There would be no one around for miles and they would have their privacy. Everyone is in for this idea.
It is a long drive and they have to stop off at a hotel for the night. They get one room, but Vaughn doesn’t feel comfortable forcing Block to share a bed, so he gets his own room. Michaelson and he go to get beer and Michaelson reveals that he is going to propose to Pero during this trip.
The next morning they hit the road and go into the desert. They have to stop and hike the rest of the way, much to the chagrin of Pero. They finally get to the valley they are going to stay and they set up camp. Vaughn reveals that he forgot his tent and Block convinces him to join her inside the tent she brought.
They build a fire and start to drink. Mushrooms are also passed around and everyone joins in on this. Vaughn during this time reveals that he grew up out in this area and that he had an abusive father that is gone. His mother was physically abused by him as was a young Vaughn. He also tells about three local ghost legends. There is talk of man who can bend shadows to hide in the dark, a miner who wanted all the land to himself and about a local cannibal. Vaughn states he isn’t sure which one is true.
In the middle of the night, Michaelson goes to relieve himself and is attacked by a man in trench coat, something over his face, a hat and he carries a pickaxe. Block and Vaughn also finally express that they are interested in each other.
The following morning Vaughn makes coffee and tries to kiss Block. She shuts him down due to morning breath. He then proceeds to tell her that he loves her, making Block even more uncomfortable. Pero wakes up and wonders where Michaelson is. They decide to start to search for him, but he is no where to be found. It takes them all day, but they come up with no clues.
Where is Michaelson? Is he still alive? Will he be found before it is too late? Who is the mysterious man he met in the desert? How are these people connected?
This film was recently brought to my attention so I decided to watch it. I have to say that for being a low-budget horror film, it is not bad. The setting is very ‘The Hills Have Eyes’-esque, which is good, because the isolation of a wide open desert can be very creepy. Not being able to easily get back to civilization sets the stage very well. I was a big fan of Vaughn sharing three possible stories of what could happen later, in a foreshadowing vein, because you don’t know if this film is going to be supernatural or a natural killer at that point. It kept me guessing. The film does have some gore around the climax, which I thought was good. There are also two twists, the first I saw coming which usually hurts a film for me if it is too obvious, but in the case of the second twist, I see why afterwards.
I did have some issues with this film. The first issue being that the acting left a little bit to be desired. I am not going to harp too much on this though as I don’t think the acting was horrible. I have seen much worst acting in a film that has ten times the budget; I just wanted a little bit more from the cast. This one does have a lot of the classic horror film clinches, which I can’t blame it too much for as it does have a little campy feel to me. I also felt this film could have been fleshed out more with a subplot or two. This could have deepened the story, as being a story guy that is something that I am really drawn too. I also wanted more of this masked character, because after the reveal, we don’t get him until right before the end credits. The last thing is that I don’t believe the progression of the relationship/feelings of Block and Vaughn. She is seems really creeped out by Vaughn and his advances in the morning, but the next day, she loves him as well. I can see that him searching all day for Michaelson, but I feel that it moved too fast with no real logic there.
Now with that said, this film for the budget that it has was pretty good. I couldn’t rate it any higher than what I did due to some of the flaws it had. The acting was okay, but I wanted more. Some of the clinches were a little too much and the story could have been a little more complex. I also wanted more of this masked character that we get to see through foreshadowing and when Michaelson is missing. The film does have a great setting, a creepy isolated film with some good foreshadowing. It also has two twists that really make this film more interesting. If you like to watch a decent low budget horror film, I would recommend this one. If you are not into that type of thing, I would avoid this as you are going to be expecting too much. This is a somewhat realistic psychopathic killer film.
My Rating: 5 out of 10