Valley of Bones

valley-of-bones-rev Valley of Bones  (2017)    Smith Global Media/Adventure-Thriller    RT: 90 minutes    Rated R (violence, drug use, language, some nudity)    Director: Dan Glaser    Screenplay: Dan Glaser, Steven Molony and Richard M. Lewis    Music: Michael Kramer and Corey Wallace    Cinematography: Michael Alden Lloyd    Release date: September 1, 2017 (US)    Cast: Autumn Reeser, Rhys Coiro, Steven Molony, Mason Mahay, Alexandra Billings, Bill Smitrovich, Muse Watson, Mark Margolis, Bill Dablow, Brandon Heitkamp, Van White.


 I have a theory about Valley of Bones, a movie I never heard of until it showed up on the schedule of my local multiplex a few days ago. A week ago, there were no major movies scheduled for release this Labor Day weekend. That never happens. A void needed to be filled. Enter Valley of Bones, the kind of movie that usually gets relegated to the VOD (Video On Demand) zone. Sometimes those movies play in a handful of theaters around the country as well (it’s a contractual thing). I guess with the lack of big-name movies this holiday weekend, the studio felt it had nothing to lose by opening Valley of Bones in a few more theaters. I truly hope they have nothing to lose because it’s not going to make a nickel.

valley of bones It’s not that Valley of Bones is a particularly bad movie; it’s just an astonishingly mediocre one. Perhaps I should revise that last statement as there’s nothing at all astonishing about any aspect of Valley of Bones. Using a word like “astonishingly” implies I felt something about the movie. I didn’t. I watched it in a state of detached interest, the kind you afford to a made-for-TV that you come across while channel surfing and keep on mainly as something to occupy your mind until another episode of Law & Order comes on.

 It’s about a paleontologist, Anna (Reeser, TV’s Salvation). She has a past. She spent three years in prison for digging on federal land. She has an eight-year-old son, Ezekiel (Mahay), that she barely knows. She’s usually off on some dig and doesn’t spend a lot of time with him. He, in turn, is cold and sullen towards her. She gets a text from her late husband’s brother Nate (Coiro, TV’s Graceland) passing along a request for her particular set of skills. It seems that a T. Rex tooth was found in the North Dakota badlands by a guy named McCoy (Molony, Oxenfree), a heroin addict and killer in heavy debt to a Mexican cartel. They’ve threatened to kill his young daughter and her cute little puppy if he doesn’t pay up soon. He joins Anna, Nate and Ezekiel on the dig thus putting their lives in danger as well. That’s basically it.

 Valley of Bones is unremarkable in every single way. It has no big name actors, just a few familiar faces like Bill Smitrovich (ID4), Mark Margolis (Sosa’s main henchman in 1983’s Scarface) and Muse Watson (the killer in I Know What You Did Last Summer). There’s nothing to say about their performances. It’s like the director, Dan Glaser (Oxenfree), just chose them at random, handed out scripts and had them recite their lines on cue. The storyline is okay. It’s engaging enough to hold your interest but not enough to make the viewing experience memorable. The scenery in the North Dakota badlands is nice. It would definitely lend itself to a better movie. Valley of Bones is very predictable. There aren’t any real surprises. The ending is pretty far-fetched.

 I’m really struggling here, folks. I honestly don’t know what else to say about Valley of Bones except that it’s definitely a September movie. It’ll be gone in a week and ultimately be banished to the realm of obscurity. It’s not even worth the effort it takes to click ORDER on VOD. It’s just there. 

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