By Luke Kelly (London, United Kingdom)
Beneath is a straight to DVD movie which seems to have floated on by and attracted little attention as it went, as of today it seems to be a film few have seen.
It receives generally unfavourable reviews all around with only 5.4 on IMDb and a meagre 39% on rotten tomatoes. As much as it is not a masterpiece by any means of the word, personally I can’t see the reason for such a low score on both sites.
It’s best described as a small town horror/mystery movie which centres on a young woman (Christy) returning to her own town for a funeral, a funeral being the very reason for her leaving in the first place and receiving a cold reception upon her return.
As far as opening segments go it has a fairly mediocre start with a backstory detailing how the protagonist is at fault for disfiguring her beloved older sister. And eventually causing her death.
Here we come across our most important scene, the young Christy thinking that her sister is still alive in the coffin and proceeding to try and open it during the wake, resulting in people thinking that she has had a mental breakdown and leads to being sent away. Throughout the rest of the movie Christy constantly has visions of someone scratching against a lid.
This scene sets up a lot of themes for the rest of the movie however there is a problem we encounter fairly early on in this respect.
This opening scene sets the foundations for the possibility of Christy being unstable and by returning triggering another breakdown, as she feels that there is a presence in her old home. However it is revealed early on that Christy’s niece Amy is scared of the ‘dark thing’ in the wall.
This part almost immediately discredits the insane angle as we now know that there is something strange going on and not inside our protagonists head and shuts out a powerful driving dynamic early on.
Instead this insane idea is used more by the locals to not believe her and keep her on her own; it’s fairly disappointing and feels like a cheap way to keep out support for Christy.
The problems with this film really come out in the overall themes rather than what we initially see, and the real shame is these problematic themes are present from too early on effectively killing tension.
Now it must be said that the main problem is that it isn’t particularly scary although there are a few creepy scenes and the end reveal is fairly horrifying so not a complete letdown.
As far as characters go the unsupporting locals who finally come to see that she was right, get annoying quite quickly. Although it does water down a potential cliché love subplot and gives the two characters a relationship of the love interest wanting to believe Christy but finding himself believing that she is still unstable.
The family and friends of; niece, brother in law and caretakers are decent characters, some wanting to believe Christy others not and has some good chemistry and conflict within the small circle.
Our protagonist is interesting, clever (not a cliché dumb horror character) and mostly likeable but it must be said sort of bland but the acting on her part and the rest of the cast is fine with no stellar performances but nothing I would call horrible.
As for the ending I was actually quite impressed, the plot revolves around Christy trying to find out if her sister had actually been buried alive or not with the prime suspect being her sister’s nurse and her brother in law.
As we go on the movie keeps the twist at a distance so it is not too obvious. With this in mind the pieces start falling into place and we start to learn that there was indeed a sinister plot going on.
As it turns out we learn that it was not in fact her sister who was in the coffin at all but instead the suspected nurse, and it was here Christy could hear scratching on the day of her sister’s funeral. And the scratching visions were in fact of her sister scratching on a cellar trapdoor.
After discovering an affair between the nurse and her husband Christy’s sister killed the nurse by burying her alive and has been living inside the walls ever since, with her husband’s knowledge.
Christy now fights off her brother in law and eventually comes face to face with her deformed sister. Christy kills her brother in law and scrambles with her sister who fails to recognise her until she sees a pendent that she gave Christy on the day of the accident. They stop fighting and sit a while until Amy comes up behind and unknowingly kills her mother stating that she ‘killed the dark thing’.
As far as the twist goes I liked it, a decent mystery with a good ending which is laid out during the progression of the film. Even as far as it not being scary it can get away with being more of a thriller than a horror which I think is acceptable.
The biggest problem with the twist was that it all arises out of Christy digging up her sister’s coffin to find no scratch marks and then the body being identified as the nurse. This plot could have been over in the first ten minutes as Christy had the visions early on and could have gone straight to the coffin; however it is a bit of a nit-pick and doesn’t bring the movie down too much.
In all I find it odd that so many people disapprove of this film, as much as I pointed out some problems it’s still a solid film and an enjoyable 80 minutes. Would I recommend it, yes, would I say that it is deserved of its 5.4 and 39% scores, no I would say give it a chance but I could understand if you don’t enjoy it.