Greg Sestero avoids joining a cult.

As someone who watches a lot of movies, I can say that it warms my nips whenever I see a bad movie where the actors eventually went on to do good stuff. Hell even the director. The thing about films is that nobody really sets out to make a bad movie, unless the goal is “so bad it’s good.” Nothing made me happier than watching Red Rocket and seeing Simon Rex finally appearing in a genuinely entertaining role for the first time in *checks IMDB* 21 years. At least when Rex was jacking off on camera for a gay porn publication it had more dignity than being the Dark Jokester in Avengers of Justice and probably paid better.

The same goes for Greg Sestero who after starring in The Room had an appearance as an uncredited frat guy in a 2006 comedy movie starring Justin Long. That’s unfortunate. I had no interest in watching The Disaster Artist, but I still have Best F(r)iends on my list. Both volumes. Tommy Wiseau has another film coming out that’s currently on TBD starring himself and Sestero called Big Shark, and I’m amazed Wiseau and Sestero are still working together given Sestero credits himself in Miracle Valley as the “survivor from The Room.”

Miracle Valley is one of those “based on a true story” movies that is actually mostly based on a true story. Greg Sestero stars as David, a photographer who kicks off a trip to Miracle Valley Arizona to find the extremely rare silver tailed hawk. He’s driving down with his surly goth girlfriend Sarah (Angela Mariano) who I unfortunately assumed was his daughter for the first chunk of the film. It’s only because Sestero is in his mid 40s with Mariano in her early 20s and while Sestero is in good shape the age difference is very obvious during the close up shots, and perhaps even more because she acts like a surly teenager.

This is Mariano’s first film, and she made a good choice as Sestero doesn’t seem like the type to take advantage of an enthusiastic young lady looking to make her way into the film industry. The duo meet up with Scott (Jesse Brenneman) and Jade (Kristen StephensonPino) with Scott playing the expositing dork and Jade playing the flirty drunk girl that no red-blooded man or woman would turn down advances from because, well, god damn. Scott exposits that Miracle Valley used to be the home of a cult who brainwashed kids and got into a squabble with the police before disappearing, a story that has some basis in reality.

I’m going to go on a limb here and say you probably couldn’t crack open a coconut on the abs of the real church leader, but you probably could with Father Jake played by Rick Edwards, a man who no red-blooded man or woman would turn down advances from because, well, god damn. Outside of being a hunk, Father Jake leads a group of cultists who apparently are on the hunt for people with a mystical and rare blood type, the kind that could cure the world of disease and probably bring in a massive profit on the black market. The churchgoers are mostly background characters with the exception of Mira (Ellie Smith) and Kelly (Amy Smith), both of whom I’d certainly let stab me in the chest with a giant butcher’s knife. Wait…

I guess I should mention the other party members at the house being played by Hannah Mouton and Zhubin Rahbar. As far as side characters go, Rahbar is one of the few with an extensive IMDB history. The cultists are fine, mostly giggling crazy people. They don’t do a whole lot. It’s a great movie that sets up the tension since you know nothing good can come from the group interacting with Father Jake and his church, and once the second half kicks off the violence shifts into overdrive. It’s a film almost entirely comprised of practical effects and thank God Sestero didn’t try to do anything crazy with this film or cheap out and go for crappy After Effects blood splatters like we see in other similar films.

It’s pretty impressive that I can finally give a good rating not just to a Tubi film, but to a Tubi film that falls into the trope of the director also being the writer and the starring lead. There’s a lot of good imagery here and you do feel for Sarah constantly being left out of the group activities. The movie seems to be aware of the very real reasons that people get entrapped into cults, generally those that feel left out and misunderstood by society that leaves them vulnerable to manipulation. Also it’s about 90 minutes, which is the perfect length for a horror movie.

I usually watch Tubi movies with my computer because I can block the ads. You should do that too. The one thing I will say about Miracle Valley is that the ending clearly looks tacked on, like they realized a little too late that the budget was up and the deadline was coming fast and had to cobble together something very quickly and hastily. Or maybe Sestero couldn’t figure out how to end the film and just said screw it.

Rating: B+