Beneath Movie Review
A group of coal miners are trapped underground and are picked off one by one by a supernatural force in the horror film Beneath, but the only real victims are the members of the audience. Stupid and lacking suspense, there's a reason why you never have and never will hear of Beneath.
Beneath won Best Picture at Screamfest LA 2014, which makes me question what other films were in contention. At the Seattle International Film Festival, the sparse audience greeted the cringe-inducing third act with laughter and snickering, primarily because the cringe-inducing third act deserves laughter and snickering.
Up until that point, Beneath is a serviceable if unremarkable horror film. Directed by Ben Ketai, the movie features a decent cast (by indie horror film standards), including Brent Brisco (The Green Mile) and Jeff Fahey ("Lost"). Star Kelly Noonan is decent and plays her part well.
Set deep underground, Ketai does a decent job of establishing the claustrophobic atmosphere, though if you compare Beneath to the incredible horror flick The Descent, which also deals with subterranean excursions, it pales in comparison. Beneath offers a couple jump scares and other suspenseful moments.
Unfortunately, those come few and far between. Beneath is largely devoid of tension, mainly because Ketai struggles to build upon the concept. The horror comes in start-and-stop fashion, and frankly it's never clear what the filmmakers wanted this movie to be. Beneath could have worked as a psychological thriller, where the characters turn on each other in paranoid fits of rage; it could have also worked as a monster movie, where ancient miners are resurrected to slaughter the newcomers. Sadly, Ketai and writers Patrick Doody and Chris Valenziano attempt to combine these two drastically different subgenres.
The result is pitiful.
Ketai relies largely on CGI to suddenly turn characters into zombified versions of themselves, but the rules by which this happen are vague. Are the characters just hallucinating these changes? Are they really happening? Does anyone care? Only the last question is truly answered, and the answer is a resounding "no."
Beneath is good until it isn't, and when it isn't, it really isn't. This is one horror movie best left buried.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.