VOD film review: Beneath
James R | On 21, Apr 2015
Director: Ben Ketai
Cast: Kelly Noonan, Jeff Fahey
Watch Beneath online in the UK: Eircom / Virgin Movies / EE / TalkTalk / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Google Play
Have you ever seen The Descent? Try to forget it before watching Beneath and you’ll have a much better time.
The movie follows a group of coal miners, who end up trapped underground. It’s a scenario that will sound familiar to many, not just because of Neil Marshall’s 2005 horror but because of tragic disasters in the news, from Chile to, most recently, China.
Beneath begins by informing us that it is “inspired by actual events”, which makes it sound a lot more intriguing than it turns out to be. What could have been an examination of the mindset of those trapped, of the claustrophobia that can tear a team apart, reveals itself to be a bog-standard B-movie.
As with all bog-standard B-movies, we are faced with a horde of stock characters, from a retiring dad (George – Jeff Fahey) to the eager youngster Randy (Joey Kern) with a crush on his daughter. The woman in question is Sam (Kelly Noonan), who starts off the 90 minutes as an environmental attorney with brains and enough attitude to see off the miners who mock her for being unable to cut it in the coal mining world. But even she disappointingly succumbs to the stereotypical script, turning into a typical damsel in distress before the credits roll.
Director Ben Ketai directs with a sense of atmosphere in the low-lit caverns, but the screenplay by Patrick J. Doody and Chris Valenziano cannot seem to decide whether it’s a supernatural gore fest (Marshall’s horror left a lasting impression partly thanks to its buckets of blood) or a social thriller about a closed-off community. It certainly has nothing to do with the true events it alludes to at the open. And so, while the cast are watchable (Fahey gives good gruff) and the low-budget hallucinations impress, Beneath sadly sinks into a bland hole from which it never quite escapes.