21st Apr2015

‘Beneath’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Brent Briscoe, Kurt Caceres, Eric Etebari, Jeff Fahey, Lauren Gores, Molly Hagan, Joey Kern, Ashway Lawver, Jason Masek, Larry Moran, Kelly Noonan, Rene Rivera, David Shackelford, Mark L. Young | Written by Patrick Doody, Chris Valenziano | Directed by Ben Ketai


The Descent arguably made being stuck underground scary again, with intelligent use of the darkness and just a hint of claustrophobia half of the job of scaring the audience was done before the creatures even made an appearance on screen.  Beneath may not want to be compared to Neil Marshall’s movie, but as a fan I can’t help but compare the two.

Beneath may claim it is inspired by true events, but we know that this is a statement that is used as a marketing tool to get attention but means nothing when it comes to historical fact.  In the movie we see a crew of coal miners trapped 600 feet below the ground.  With the air growing toxic it’s not long before madness starts to ensue and the miners turn on each other.

While there are some scenes that could be compared to The Descent, luckily Beneath has a strong main story that manages to make the film not seem like a rip-off of Neil Marshall’s movie.  The ambiguity between what the miners are seeing and what is the reality is a riddle that isn’t really answered and that works to keep the audience on edge as well as the characters themselves.  It’s easy to believe that what we experience with the miners are just hallucinations from lack of clean air, but there is still that lingering question of the ghost of past mining tragedies come back to gain more victims.  The setting created for Beneath is interesting enough, and the way it slowly extends to include more chambers to the mine helps keep tension high.  There’s nothing like yet another dark corridor to put you on edge and keep any safe feeling to a minimum.  Add the fact that nobody can be trusted and we have the setting for an atmospheric horror film.

When it comes to the characters and the actors who play them Beneath is something of a mixed bag.  The relationship between George Marsh (Jeff Fahey) and his daughter Samantha (Kelly Noonan) creates not only a family to be able to connect to emotionally, but also creates tension between the two with the upcoming retirement of the father and the resentment he feels.  Where the film slightly falters though is the lack of depth into some of the other characters.  This isn’t down to the actors, they do the best with what they’ve got but for the most part they are a forgettable bunch who seem to be there to lose their minds and attack each other.  While the film is still enjoyable, it would have still been nice to be able to connect with the people on-screen better instead of just knowing them by their characteristics such as sexist asshole, possible relationship material, rookie, and old-timer.  It’s typical of horror movies though to have cannon fodder characters such as these so it’s an acceptable option for Beneath.

Even with the weak character development Beneath does manage to be an interesting movie that manages to raise enough questions to keep the audience interested, even if the ambiguous nature of the events for the most part goes unanswered.  When compared to The Descent it may not be as good, but for fans of claustrophobic horror that attempts to at least be slightly original Beneath is worth a look.

**** 4/5

Beneath is available on DVD and VOD now from Arrow Films.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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