Friday, November 11, 2022

Malnazidos/Valley of the Dead

Movie Name:
Malnazidos/Valley of the Dead
Year of Release: 2020
Director: Alberto de Toro, Javier Ruiz Caldera
Starring: Miki Esparbe, Aura Garrido, Luis Callejo, Alvaro Cervantes, Jesus Carroza, Dafnis Balduz, Sergio Torrico, Manel Llunell, Maria Botto, Manuel Moron, Francisco Reyes, Frank Feys, Ken Appledorn
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
"Malnazidos" is the first film directed by the team of Alberto de Toro and Javier Ruiz Caldera, though both of them have extensive experience in film making, with de Toro previously focused on editing and Caldera with considerable experience in directing. The film which takes place during the Spanish civil war, more specifically in 1938, follows the story of Jan Lozano, a former attorney now a lieutenant, whom we initially encounter about to be shot (he's a Nationalist). He is saved since his uncle is a General, who quickly assigns him a mission to deliver an important letter to the Sixth Brigade, one that is situated on enemy's lines. He is assigned a driver to get him to the location, but while on route, they get captured by a small group of Republicans. They soon find themselves tackling a series of zombies, including members of the Republicans larger squad. These zombies turns out are a result of experiments that the Nazis have been doing in the country and they all have to unite forces not only to defeat the zombie menace, but also prevent it from spreading throughout the country and world.
One of the most interesting things about "Malnazidos" is the fact that unlike Tommy Wirkola's "Dead Snow", it places the zombie threat not in the present timeline, but actually during the Spanish Civil War, which in many ways was the preamble for what World War II turned out to be. The film plays itself out as an economical B-movie, with the main set of characters quickly established without much background information, save for the essential in order to clarify their motivation. It's a film where the directors manage to illustrate the relationship of complicity and support between the main characters, even if at times it comes the film itself comes across as a borderline tv film with some gore thrown in for good measure. Unlike Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" or even Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead", where the zombie threat pervaded much of the action, the directors here are more interested in how the group of soldiers are interacting with each other and how their relationships evolve, with the zombie threat playing more of a background role in the proceedings. It's a film that moves fast and accomplishes its purpose of being entertaining, peppered with some humor. The cast is uniformly solid, as is the production team, with highlights going to the cinematography from Kiko de la Rica. It's a watchable feature even if not a particularly memorable one.