Movie Review - Beneath
Opening this past weekend in select theaters and on VOD is director Ben Ketai's abstract psychological thriller, Beneath, which feels like an homage to movies like The Descent or the highly overlooked 1985 film, What Waits Below. The film capitalizes on an overpowering sense of claustrophobia, and uses that to stage a series of jump scares and surprise plot twists that leave the viewer feeling just as disoriented as the characters in the film. I would like to applaud the director for not presenting this story as a found footage film (although the style can be used effectively, it's being overused) but I have to dock points for using the 'Based on True Events' tag. Though while the film isn't perfect, overall I found it thoroughly entertaining.
On his last night before retirement as a coal miner, George Marsh (Jeff Fahey) decides to bring his daughter Samantha down into the mine for his last few hours. But when the crew of miners uncover a hidden tunnel they simultaneously cause a disastrous cave in. Now, trapped six hundred feet below the surface, with seventy-two hours to wait until rescue workers will be able to dig them out, their sanity starts to wear thin and they begin to turn on each other. I don't want to say any more about the plot, but I have to make a note about the ending. Without revealing anything, I found it slightly disappointing and extremely unclear. And frankly, that was my main issue with the film. It's a pretty well crafted build up to a lackluster ending.
The cast is phenomenal. Jeff Fahey (Lawnmower Man) and Kelly Noonan (Haunt) shine as the father and daughter, and the chemistry between the two feels very real. And the crew of miners are very strong as an ensemble, even when the characters begin to self-destruct. I also felt that the lighting was a major a character in the film. The way the final act of the film is shot using only the blue lights, and the lengthy period in complete darkness, help to drive the story and the tension expertly. Sadly though, in the end it never amounted to much, and the climax of the movie left me wanting some sort of resolution that never materialized.
I really did enjoy Beneath, but wish that the film had a stronger ending. The film shows a lot of promise from writers that are relatively new to the genre, and a director with a fantastic eye for framing a shot. It's an engaging movie, and I look forward to future collaborations from the film makers. Check it out in theaters or on VOD now. Cheers.