Review: Dead Mine / Cert: 18 / Director: Steven Sheil / Screenplay: Ziad Semaan, Steven Sheil / Starring: Aryo Bayu, Afwan, Andre / Release Date: Out Now
Dead Mine is a co-production between HBO Asia, in its first original production, and Infinite Frameworks. It has decent production values and chiselled, good-looking cast members from a variety of countries. The problem is that Dead Mine doesn’t have one original bone in its body.
The archetypes and cardboard cut-outs that come together at the start are led by a shady CEO rich kid and include the usual gruff mercenaries for hire as well as some pretty female scientist types. This squad is looking for General Yamashita’s gold deep in the Indonesian jungle. The gold is said to be in an old World War II bunker used by the Japanese. After being attacked by some local militia, the crew are stuck down the tunnels and shafts that make up the bunker and something sinister is revealed to be down there with them.
The beginning of the film elicits nothing but groans. The characters are shallow and obvious and the motivations are all clichéd. The performances are awful across the board, the actors doing no more than hitting their marks and reading their lines. Once the group get stuck down the tunnels, then things get a bit more interesting. We know as an audience that ‘something’ is down there with them and we see shadows and hear noises. Trouble is, just as the film seems like it might be going down a reasonably creepy path, it then ruins any goodwill it may have earned with a reveal of what is actually transpiring in the mine. Turns out the ‘gold’ is no more than a codeword for some kind of hideous experiment with undead soldiers. Cue a rip-off of Aliens and Outpost. There are a couple of shots which are so reminiscent of another horror film from 2005 that is regarded as a classic, that I am amazed there isn’t a court case in progress. The film gets more ridiculous from here and any tension or appeal evaporates completely.
There is nothing wrong with imitation or homage providing it’s done well and with a sense of propriety. However, Dead Mine has no real excuse for much of its borrowings and the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Steven Sheil’s film is very much a case of ‘must try harder’.
Extras: Interviews, Behind the Scenes, Deleted Scenes