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Monstrous Mayhem Abounds in the Trailer for Death Valley

face of man and a monster staring at each other.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Eight hours ago, San Miesa Institute received a distress call from one of their compounds…”

The trailer for Shudder’s upcoming horror film, Death Valley, follows a familiar plot line: an alien creature of unknown origin, escaped and on the loose, picking off expert militia one by one. From The Thing passed down to Predator handed off to Aliens and then Resident Evil, there’s a reason why these movies work — our fascination with rapacious creatures who lurk in the dark. Whether it’s Antarctica, outer space, the Central American jungle, or the fictional Raccoon City, these films share great monsters in common. If Death Valley’s preview is true of its suggestion, we can add another mythic killer to the mix.

In the film, a group of mercenaries travel to an underground facility to rescue bioengineer Dr. Chloe (Kristen Kaster) who becomes trapped after a mysterious underground facility is locked down. The scientist, covered in blood, has activated an alarm signal after a clandestine bio-experiment has gone horribly wrong. 

Alerted by the distress beacon, battle-weary guns for hire Marshall (Ethan Mitchell) and Beckett (Jeremy Ninaber, the director’s brother) are commissioned to carry out a covert operation to extract the imprisoned scientist. There seem to be a couple of minor issues, however. 

Upon deployment, they find themselves ambushed by another heavily armed military team who is hellbent on finding a way into the compound while keeping Marshall and his team out. (Could they perhaps be trying to cover up the incident and secure the ‘weapon’ for an evil company?) Severely outnumbered and in a horrific fight for survival, there’s yet another problem for these soldiers. After securing entry into the bunker through an unsealed emergency hatch, a mutated abomination awaits. 

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“Looks like they found something in the ice,” Mitchell as Marshall says in the preview.

With only 24 hours left before a fatal decontamination protocol destroys the entire lab, the mercenaries find themselves trapped and at the mercy of this terrifying creature. Reminiscent of Resident Evil’s brain-headed lickers and Aliens’ mature xenomorphs, one of these soldiers gets a very up-close and personal view of this brown, gnarled, eyeless, and black-clawed beast in the Death Valley trailer.

Not only is this stalker from the mind of writer and director Matthew Ninaber, he actually plays the monster. This won’t be the first time in an ugly suit for Ninaber either. The director follows his hilarious turn as an alien overlord in 2021’s Psycho Goreman for this more bloodthirsty brute in Death Valley

With time, ammunition, and living team members dwindling, the team must locate Dr. Chloe while also navigating an underground maze of corridors before they’re either hunted down one by one or blown up in the facility’s final self-destruction sequence. 

Sounds familiar, right? A reprised narrative, though, should not discount the original action. With what seems to be plenty of gore from a truly fearsome monster and high-octane action to boot, Death Valley is an indie flick with a lot of promise.

Death Valley will be released exclusively on Shudder on Dec. 9. 

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Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
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