★★★ out of ★★★★★
The Room co-star Greg Sestero makes his directorial debut with this 1970s-styled killer cult movie. Butter up the popcorn and invite some friends over for some head-scratching, limb-hacking fun with this one.
Directed by Greg Sestero
Because Miracle Valley is patterned after 1970s horror movies about cults, I’ll describe some of the film’s goings-on in drive-in movie poster style: “SEE! Young women kidnapped by a killer cult for their rare blood type!” “SEE! Weird experiments in a mad scientist’s desert laboratory!” “SEE! A shirtless maniac run wild!”
As you might guess from my taglines, Miracle Valley is the type of fare you might choose when you are in the mood for a fun time watching a horror movie. Written and directed by Greg Sestero, co-star of The Room and last year’s Cyst, and author of The Disaster Artist, the film follows photographer David (Sestero) and his girlfriend Sarah (Angela Mariano) as they argue their way on a road trip to the desert, to spend time with David’s fellow city friends when Sarah thought it was a “just us two” excursion.
David is obsessed with taking a photo of a rare hawk that would make him instantly wealthy, and confides to a friend that he is ready to dump Sarah in pursuit of other women once she gets more centered about her ailing mother. They cross paths with Father Jake (Rick Edwards), a cult leader who they take up on his invitation to come to his next cult meeting. It turns out that Sarah, who is easily lured in by the charismatic Father Jake, has a rare blood type that Jake and the mad scientist on staff — who have a missing-persons poster of a girl kidnapped in the film’s cold open in their straight-out-of-the1950’s mad-scientist laboratory — covet.
I’ll stop there with the plot for the sake of word count and to avoid spoiling all of the other nuttiness going on in Miracle Valley. Yes, there’s a lot going on in the film, probably too much for one movie, but it’s all directed, acted, and made earnestly rather than going for deliberate camp. The production values are solid, and the gore-splattered third act is pretty gonzo. Miracle Valley is entertaining throughout, sometimes for the reasons Sestero intended and sometimes not.
Miracle Valley screened as part of Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween Edition, which ran in London, U.K. on October 29 and 30, 2021.