Death Valley (DVD Review)13 Jul, 2008 By: Matt Miller
Rated ‘R' for strong violence including a rape, drug use and language.
Stars Eric Christian Olsen, Dash Mihok, Rider Strong, Vince Vieluf, Genevieve Cortese, Brendan Fletcher.
When Josh (Olsen) and three friends head to the California desert for a drug-filled birthday celebration, the last thing they expect is to end up in a war with a ruthless local biker gang known as the Scorpions.
Before the weekend is over, friendships will be tested, lives will be lost and only the lucky will survive.
From the get-go, their excursion is plagued by problems, including Josh almost shooting his friend while having a bad mescaline trip. Things only get worse the next morning when they try to leave and find some hooligans have ransacked their SUV, stealing everything including the battery.
It's not long before two of the punks return to start trouble. And with everyone's tempers running high, the confrontation quickly escalates into a deadly shootout that brings out the entire Scorpions posse, who drive the outsiders into a cave and slowly close in on them. Knowing they can't hide for long, Josh executes a risky plan to help his remaining friends escape alive despite being outnumbered and outgunned by the Scorpions.
Debuting at the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival under the name Mojave, Death Valley will not disappoint fans looking for a terrifying thriller — imagine Deliverance meets The Hills Have Eyes.
What makes the film so disturbing is that it's not over the top. Everything in the film is plausible, so much so that you really begin to sympathize with the characters as they fight for their lives. It's this sense of realism that drives the story and helps create an intense underlying tone throughout.
As an independent film, it also benefits from having a talented cast of familiar faces, including Olsen; Mihok, who plays the leader of the Scorpions; and the unforgettable Cortese (star of TV's “Wildfire”).