Monday, August 13, 2007
I saw the film Beneath just a few nights ago, but it is already rapidly fading from my memory. There have been many mindless straight-to-video releases in 2007, and while this new release is significantly better than many of those, that doesn’t necessarily make Beneath a good movie.
After causing the crash that burned her sister Vanessa (Carly Pope) alive, Christy (Nora Zehetner) has had psychic visions. Though her sister survived the crash, she was badly burned and horribly disfigured. Soon after Vanessa began home treatment, she died. At the funeral, Christy became convinced that her sister had been buried alive. Now, years later and after lots of counseling, Christy is 20 years old and returns to her hometown determined to find out what her visions mean and to find out what exactly happened to her sister.
She visits her brother-in-law John (Matthew Settle) in his creepy old house. Her young niece, Amy (Jessica Amlee), tells her that a “dark thing” stalks the house and lives in the walls. Also living in the house is John’s strict and stern mother, Mrs. Locke (Gabrielle Rose). Christy’s visions and suspicions intensify and she becomes even more convinced that something was very fishy with her sister’s death. Does the dark thing that Amy sees have anything to do with her sister’s death? Why are John and his mother so secretive and protective of the house? Is Christy going crazy or is something more sinister happening at the Locke estate?
Beneath wasn’t a bad flick and it certainly was better than most brainless horror movies released direct-to-DVD, but I found it very unmemorable. It lacked that certain something (like a cohesive, solid plot) to be considered a well-done horror movie. This was disappointing because I found the beginning to be completely engaging. After a while, though, the movie just began to drag and become repetitive. Story lines were vaguely explored only to be dropped. For example, it is lightly touched on that the Locke’s are closing their mine and many workers are pissed off at them…but this plot point isn’t followed through and ends up just feeling useless. The inclusion of a hunky police officer (Warren Christie) got my hopes up, but his relationship with Christy is standoffish and unhelpful (and ultimately boring). There are many other plot holes or awkward, underdeveloped plot points that really bog down the middle of the story, and even an impressive finale can’t make up for the lackluster chunk of the movie.
Despite the film’s pitfalls, it still boasts great performances from its actors. Nora Zehetner is impressive as the unwavering and determined Christy. She makes her character likable and you really want her to succeed in the end. Jessica Amlee as the young Amy is also a standout and gives a strong performance. Even though she has a very short time on screen, it was still fun to see Carly Pope, whom I remember from the TV show Popular. Every one else in the cast does a wonderful job as well and the acting might be the only thing about this movie I didn’t have a problem with.
Director Dagen Merrill (who also penned the script) does a pretty impressive job directing. I loved the very end of the film and the chase through the labyrinth-like Locke estate. The mansion looked amazingly dreary and spooky. There were quite a few good scares, just not quite enough to please me. Still, Merrill’s directing is much better than his writing, which I really think hurt the film.
Beneath is a solid movie if you only watch the first and last halves of the film. The middle is just too convoluted and messy for my liking and lacks tension or scares. If you are scouring the aisles looking for a horror rental, I wouldn’t make this your last resort but I also wouldn’t recommend it too highly. Put it at the top of your straight-to-DVD flicks list and at the bottom of your theatrically released horror film picks.
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