Home > Beneath (2014) - 5 > Beneath (2014) – 5

Beneath (2014) – 5

Director – Ben Ketai

Cast – Brent Briscoe, Kurt Caceres, Eric Etebari, Jeff Fahey, Joey Kern, Kelly Noonan, Rene Rivera, David Shackelford, Mark L. Young

Release Year – 2014

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Much like Circus of the Dead, I was able to screen this film at Texas Frightmare Weekend 2014 in Dallas. It was Friday, the first day of the convention, and despite my lack of sleep I was very excited for this midnight showing. The story seemed like an awesome one that consisted of a nowhere-to-run scenario, which always peaks my interest. Beneath started off well, and the positives are numerous. The atmosphere is great, the cinematography is good, and the acting performances were better than expected. Unfortunately, the story is where the film falters. While fairly interesting overall, the end result is a lackluster experience that was very hard to watch while running on little sleep.

Based on “true events”, a crew of coal miners become trapped hundreds of feet below ground after an unfortunate collapse. With the air growing toxic and oxygen levels depleting, the miners begin a maniacal descent into madness as time keeps running out.

I was excited walking into Beneath. After a two hour nap between film screenings I wanted to make sure I was wide awake and at least somewhat rested for what I assumed would be a slow film at first, eventually kicking us in the face to make it worth the wait. This was the case with The Descent, but sadly that was not really the case with Beneath. The film starts off well, revealing to us that it is George Marsh (Jeff Fahey)’s final day on the job after over 30 years of working the mines. His daughter decides to tag along for this final day so she can see the hard work her father endured to provide for the family, so when tragedy strikes it hits even harder for George. It does not take long for the collapse to occur and seal the miners 600 feet underground, and even with an oxygen fueled emergency bunker we see paranoia kicking in. I saw this story as a blend of The Descent and Session 9. What’s funny is both of those films are great horror flicks, and Beneath is not. It borrows from The Descent in trapping our protagonists in a life or death / nowhere to run scenario where the underground landscape is the initial danger, and it taps into Session 9 in having the miners lose their bearings and begin suffering the effects of sudden mental instability due to extreme duress. There are plenty of kills to potentially enjoy, however some of them occur offscreen and only show us the after effect. The story attempts to bring much psychological terror to the screen as well, and while I applaud the ambition I was sorry to see that the horror was rarely worthwhile. I believe you can make a good film about miners going crazy, especially given the number of pickaxes lying around, but Beneath is not that good film. Had the flick gone the route of The Descent and given us creature horror instead I feel the experience would have been much better and a lot scarier. But hey, maybe I can capitalize on the idea in the future.

Director Ben Ketai does an OK job with Beneath, his sophomore effort. He sucks us in right away with his awesome atmosphere and the positive sets used for the underground collapse. I enjoyed the look of the safety bunker and the false hope it provided, as well as the claustrophobic feel echoing throughout the many uncharted tunnels and dark corners. With this being a psychological horror film you should expect good performances, and for the most part I was impressed with what the actors had to offer. These characters go through emotional extremes, from enjoying their work to severe distress over the impending doom, and each actor sold their role without a single one negatively effecting the experience. As for the horror, it was decent at times and unfulfilling at times. We get a few decent chills and maybe one good scare, but the more the horror hit the screen the more I disliked the bombardment of cheap cliches in a film that could have been much better.

Overall, Beneath is a film with much potential thanks to its great atmosphere and solid acting performances. Sadly, the horror does not match up to the film’s awesome visuals nor take advantage of them. Beneath is not a bad film, it just is not very interesting. It may appease some of those who need a quick fix without asking much, but if that is the case there are better efforts, like The Descent and Session 9.

Rating: 5/10

…Additional Stills…

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