DVD REVIEW: BENEATH / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BEN KETAI / SCREENPLAY: PATRICK DOODY, CHRIS VALENZIANO / STARRING: BRENT BRISCOE, ASHWAY LAWVER, JEFF FAHEY, ERIC ETEBARI, MOLLY HAGAN, JOEY KERN / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 20TH
If, like us, you’re a little jaded by the current fad for horror movies that purport to be true stories, then the opening title for this film reading “Inspired by true events” will no doubt elicit a heavy sigh and a mutter of “here we go again”.
But, the good news is that Beneath is actually a good thriller. It isn’t some over sensationalised haunting or possession, it’s the story of a group of coal miners trapped six hundred feet underground after a disastrous collapse cuts off their means of returning to the surface, the tunnel weakened when the large drill they’re using breaches the wall of another cavernous mine.
As the miners await a rescue which might not come, paranoia starts to creep in and it begins to seem that they’re not alone. Stories of a mine collapse in the old mine (presumably the one they’ve just accidentally drilled into) begin to fill their minds, along with the fables of madness which infected their trapped predecessors.
Okay, so those camp fire stories are enough to creep anybody out, but the real enemy in this unusual film aren’t anything as fanciful as zombie miners from the 1920s. Rather, it’s the fact that they’re running out of oxygen as the spare tanks go missing and the fan which draws the poisonous methane out and brings fresh air in has been destroyed meaning the air is becoming more toxic.
As the miners’ paranoia mounts and the bad air is causing hallucinations, the group begin to turn on each other. The make-up effects, particularly on the injuries caused by the collapse, including a particularly realistically gristly and graphic compound fracture, are far beyond what you’d expect from a direct-to-DVD offering, as are the performances from the largely unknown cast.
Yes, the film lapses into the predictable sudden “light thrown upon something frightening, with an accompanying blast of loud music” cliché that most of the films set underground are prone to, but that’s only to be expected.
All in all, a satisfying chiller that’s not too taxing and has some depth.
Special Features: Two featurettes