Directed by: Ben Ketai
Written by: Patrick Doody and Chris Valenziano
Cast: Jeff Fahey, Kelly Noonan, Joey Kern, Eric Etebari
Running Time: 89 Minutes
UK Certificate: 18
Format: DVD (Available Now)
Studio: Arrow Video
A good, solid movie with a few jump scares. What saves this from falling into the traps of most films of its type is the central performances and claustrophobic sets.
Beneath opens with a disclaimer claiming it is inspired by true events. After a little digging you can find links to a real life collapse in Sago in 2006.
Jeff Fahey (Lawnmower Man, Planet Terror) plays George Marsh, a tired, ailing and worn miner approaching retirement. Joining him and his crew at his retirement party is his daughter Sam. Sam, having left the rural life behind, is an environmental lawyer in New York. After a few drinks she agrees to join her dad on his last day at work. Sam is played by Kelly Noonan (Haunt, Road to Paloma) who hits all her character beats extremely well. Having to spend a great deal of the film in the dark, tight spaces and grime, she pulls the part off brilliantly. The panic and fear is all on show and it’s easy to fully engage with her performance.
During the dig a chasm is opened up, causing the mine to collapse. Within this chasm lies the bodies of a mining crew from the 1920’s, who legend has it all went mad and killed each other. As one character points out though “How could you know if there were no survivors.” With their oxygen running out and methane creeping in they seek sanctuary in the rescue chamber (think Oxygen stocked caravan) and await the rescue team. The problem is someone didn’t make it to the chamber and doesn’t seem to want the survivors to escape the mine either.
The script was written by writing team Patrick Doody and Chris Valenziano who co-wrote together the game Silent Hill: Homecoming. Doody and Valenziano try their hardest to avoid tropes and pit falls, and although some are unavoidable they do succeed in keeping an element of mystery, is this a monster movie, a possession movie or crazy gas inducing psychosis movie.
Ben Ketai, director of 30 Days of Night: Dark Days, films confidently, using hand held cameras and close ups to their full advantage. Many of his long, lingering, shots are reminiscent of scenes on the Nostromo in Alien. Beneath is successful at creating a feeling of claustrophobia and at one point towards the end we are plunged into complete darkness and rely solely on audio. This brings me nicely to the score by Andreas Boulton which, although loud during the staple jump scares, sits in the background nicely and is never intrusive. The practical effects are beautiful, keeping the gore front and centre. One complaint would be that there is a use of CGI to alter some actor’s faces that may have been better realised with make-up and prosthetics.
The DVD itself, by Arrow Video, looks and sounds great, and using mostly shadows and blacks never looks artificial or flat. The sound design adds to the atmosphere and worked perfectly with a home theatre system. Every drip, crumbling rock and pained scream, can be heard making it a fully immersive experience.
The behind the scenes and short featurette are relatively short. The Bonus Clip however, although only a minute long, plays out like and old news reel surrounding the original collapse from the 1920’s which I really enjoyed and added a little background history to the story.