A paleontologist gets a tip from an oil worker in the Badlands that may set her career back on track.
|Release Date||:||September 1, 2017|
|Genres||:||Western, Crime, Thriller|
|Production Company||:||Unmarked Van Films, Bad Medicine Films|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Writers||:||Dan Glaser, Steven Molony|
|Casts||:||Autumn Reeser, Rhys Coiro, Steven Molony, Mason Mahay, Alexandra Billings, Bill Smitrovich, Mark Margolis, Muse Watson, Brandon Heitkamp, Maddisyn Carter|
|Plot Keywords||:||adventure, drama, suspense, thriller, crime, neo-western, badlands, neo-noir|
Dan Glaser's Valley of Bones is a compelling cinematic exploration of an interesting hybrid of genres. The kid in you watches wide-eyed at the mystique of paleontology and the "fortune and glory" that comes with uncovering dinosaur bones, while the thrill junkie in you is overcome with intrigue as a man who gets involved with the wrong people has to face the grueling consequences.
The film has guts, both literally and figuratively. The director (Glaser) and lead actors (Molony and Reeser), don't pull any punches and therefore, thrash its audience perfectly through a roller-coaster ride of tension, heart, and unpredictability. Molony gives a stunning and nuanced performance as a desperate-addict-turned-drug-monster, mastering the characterization of a very complicated and sensitive man. Reeser confronts her role with grace as a struggling paleontologist and mother. Her performance was extremely refreshing, largely because this role would usually be given to a male actor. If this is a statement against the unsettling amount of leading men over women in Hollywood culture, then message received and hats off! Both leads were phenomenal.
The team of VOB isn't concerned with adopting any tropes commonly used in cinema. They're creating their own rules, while respectfully staying within the general boundaries of coherent storytelling. In other words, I was constantly at the edge of my seat.
Filmmakers seldom take the risk of brewing a mixing pot of conflicting genres because of their fear of having the end product come out half-baked. Thankfully, this is not the case for the VOB team. They tackled an unconventional concept and presented it fearlessly to a body of modern audiences who are usually accustomed to watered down, fluffy content produced by large Hollywood studios. The film can be ruthless and unforgiving, and I love love love that. I was frankly unprepared to be whipping around in my seat, and as an avid film goer, I can't think of anything I'd want more from a film. It is one of the small handful of films that I reflect on as an experience rather than a viewing. The VOB team is successfully paving the way for incoming filmmakers who want to make something new and different.
Valley of Bones explores the dangers of running away from your problems, as well as a realization that sometimes the most valuable thing to uncover isn't what's buried among the bones, but rather, the importance of family. It is impeccably shot in the hauntingly beautiful Badlands, directed with tremendous care, and acted with a big, unflinching heart. It deserves everyone's eyes.