Actors: Kelly Noonan, Jeff Fahey
Director: Ben Ketai
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
Run Time: 89 minutes
The ambiguity of the horror film Beneath is what allows it to still claim inspiration from a true story, though we know that many of the film’s more grotesque images cannot possibly have existed in reality. This is also what helps the audience to grasp some type of understanding from the ambiguity. I found this construction in the screenplay to be the most impressive element of the film, which in every other way seems to be as generic a horror movie as I have ever seen.
The premise of the film has a group of coal miners trapped six-hundred feet below the surface after a catastrophic accident causes a collapse that buries them underground. Included in the group is veteran miner George Marsh (Jeff Fahey), who is working his last shift before retirement. In a stroke of bad luck, March is joined by his inexperienced daughter, Samantha (Kelly Noonan), whose feminist pride pushed her to join the crew and prove her ability to do the difficult job. The greatest misstep in the filmmaking process comes from the inability to make any of these characters remotely significant to the ultimate goals of the narrative.
The actors fail to give us a reason to care about them, and even though some of the cast is simply incapable of coming off convincing as a human being, even the talented cast members suffer under the silliness of the screenplay’s third act. With 72 hours before rescue workers can feasibly reach them, the group is left in the enclosed space underground to wait as their oxygen depletes. As they lose their ability to breathe clean air, the group of survivors simultaneously loses their grasp on reality, becoming more of a danger to themselves than anything lurking in the shadows of the caves.
The DVD is complete with a surprising amount of extras, from making-of featurettes to footage from the real-life tragedy to inspire this screenplay. There is even a commentary track with director Ben Ketai, writers Patrick J. Doody and Chris Valenziano, and producers Nick Phillips and Kelly Martin Wagner. There are also interviews with cast and crew, featurettes about the screenplay process and the mining experience taught to the actors prior to filming, and more. If only the film was as deserving as the extensive behind-the-scenes material would suggest.
Entertainment Value: 4/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4.5/10
Historical Significance: 3/10
Special Features: 8/10