The latest new Netflix movie to hit the top 10 charts is arriving out of nowhere. And we’re not exactly surprised that this zombie movie we hadn’t heard of is already getting attention. Zombie flicks always draw something of an audience, if only because they don’t come around often.
Today, we’re talking about Valley of the Dead, a Spanish zombie flick (originally titled Malnazidos) that just dropped on Netflix on Monday (July 11). And in that short while, it’s already managed to claw its way into the top 10 movies in the U.S. list, a feat for a non-English language movie with little promotion or buzz.
Valley of the Dead sneaks in at No. 8 on the list, sitting between more famous films — Wanted with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy and The Dark Knight Rises, the third Christian Bale Batman movie. It’s a Netflix original, too.
What is Valley of the Dead about?
Valley of the Dead takes place in 1938 Spain, as the Spanish Civil War continues on. Captain Jan Lozano (Miki Esparbe) almost doesn’t continue on with it, though, as we meet him up against a firing squad. His fate is saved by his uncle, a general.
Then, Lozano is sent onto what is basically a suicide mission. Shortly into said mission they encounter — you guessed it — rabid zombies. This forces Lozano to work with his enemies in order to survive.
The most interesting of Lozano’s makeshift allies is a woman called “Priest Killer” (Aura Garrido). She’s got a short temper, short hair and seems made to complicate things in action movies.
These antiheroes find more and more allies, and fight off zombies. It’s a fairly by-the-books adventure.
What do critics think of Valley of the Dead?
Valley of the Dead seems to be off the radar for many a critic, but some found it and gave mixed verdicts. Matt Donato at IGN (opens in new tab) wrote that “Valley of the Dead won’t crack anyone’s list of favorite zombie flicks, but it’s still serviceable and made more interesting by its Spanish Civil War surroundings.” He also explains that “The period atmosphere of it all sells worthwhile envelopment, while the depths of horror exploration and climactic finales are much shallower.”
Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab), though, found only one critic review, from Roger Moore at Movie Nation (opens in new tab) (which we, admittedly, hadn’t heard of before).. He argues that the film is lacking for material, stating “The acting is pretty good, but the screenplay lacks the jokes and sight gags that would make this sing. The entire enterprise feels somewhat flat-footed much of the time. He also notes “The only times this ‘Valley’ seems to come together are when it’s playing with classic combat and horror tropes.”
Decider’s John Serba is also polite but restrained with his review, calling Valley of the Dead “technically competent, and therefore watchable … The plot plays out in predictable fashion, where the main characters get picked off as a matter of routine and the survivors are upset to see their friends return as undead masticators, eventually seeing the zombie phenomenon in a context greater than their own survival, etc. etc. It just goes through the motions of a horror-action-comedy without ever being very scary, thrilling or funny.”
Should you watch Valley of the Dead tonight?
To be honest, we don’t think Valley of the Dead has a strong shot of making it to our best Netflix movies list. Or even the best horror movies on Netflix list.
Having watched a bit of Valley of the Dead, it seems to be very much a movie that is just for those who don’t have enough new zombies content in their lives. We’re not sure if Disney’s cheery zombies are your flavor, but we should note that Zombies 3 is one of the 7 new movies to stream this week.