Country: Austria / Germany
Movie Review: Achieving considerable notoriety in its origin countries, Austria and Germany, “The Dark Valley” grips us with a tale of vengeance set in a remote village of the Austrian Alps. With a sturdy hand, director Andreas Prochaska, builds this western with passion, even considering that some viewers might be frustrated when trying to find answers for some plausible questions, such as the real motives for the vengeance behind the story. The charismatic Sam Riley (“Control”, “On the Road”) stars as Greider, an apparently quiet stranger who introduces himself as a photographer, willing to pay for staying the winter in the village. The old Brenner and their six harsh sons, as the town rulers for many years, decided to accept his monetary offering, placing him in the house of a widow whose daughter Lucy develops a fondness for her lodger. Lucy is about to get married with Lucas, but gets concerned when informed by her future husband that the ritual known as ‘Primae noctis’, a medieval prerogative that allows the rulers to take the virginity of young brides, will occur after the wedding party with the priest’s connivance. This fact seems to be the reason for Greider’s presence, coinciding with two unexpected deaths in the Brenner family that will make him a suspect, a fugitive, but also a predator. Prochaska takes his time to build things up, but once we are immersed in the hunting process, our attention becomes focused, not on the contestable motives, but on the action itself. Some flashbacks can help turning the visually stunning “The Dark Valley” a bit clearer, while the occasionally incongruous score was its most negative aspect.