Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Ben Ketai's, Beneath

of 8 viewers "Liked" "Beneath" (USA, 2013)
Here's what the citizens of the Overlook Theatre had to say:

The Berkeley Blazer - "This movie was a pleasantly unpleasant surprise. Dread, claustrophobia, and the inherently terrifying nature of underground darkness is palpable and portrayed in a way that holds tension. The jump scares are truly terrifying but I don't want to ruin them with description; it suffices to say that this is a cringe-worthy film in the best way. The actors also do a great job with the script they've been given, and while said script holds together through most of the film the conclusion is inconclusive and not in keeping with the visceral satisfaction of the rest of the production. Nonetheless this is a recommend for horror and non-horror films alike, and a solid cavernous potboiler." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "Is it possible for a film to surpass it limitations, yet fail to reach its full potential? I'd say yes and Ben Ketai's Beneath proves this. To call Beneath a typical thriller is exactly wrong, as this film is undoubtedly a horror movie disguised as a thriller. Beneath stars a natural disaster that is all but diffused by solid emergency preparation. In fact, they are so prepared that the film teases an anticlimactic solution, which any self-respecting voyeuristic audience dreads. Thankfully our professionals weren't prepared for the complete spectrum of possible horrors that await folks trapped underground. Sadly, although Beneath surpasses it's thriller limitations, it still falls short of a satisfying ending, horror or not. This complaint ultimately doesn't mean much as the ride to the end is engaging and entertaining." - 4 Stars

Book Wyrm - "I cried 3 times during this movie. It felt so realistic and so bleak that it was hard not to feel for those poor people. The horror wasn't too much like what you'd expect from a horror movie, in fact, I didn't think it even was a horror movie until I asked. The tunnel setting is so stifling it becomes hard for even the viewer to breathe, and I think that inclusive experience is what made this movie truly moving." - 4.5 Stars

Huntress - "As much as I enjoyed Beneath, I was still a little relieved when it was over and I could take a deep breath after shaking the feeling that I was wheezing with the miners in the film. Wherever the film was shot looked great and, when combined with the darkness of the theatre, it gave me the feeling the walls around me were slowly moving in." - 4 Stars

KillDozer - "This film has enough atmosphere and claustrophobia to keep any film goer feeling breathless while being filled with at least a little anxiety. Beneath starts off simply enough with a premise that we have seen plenty of times in natural disaster films where "people trapped become their own worst enemy". I was pleasantly surprised that 2 writers known mostly for their work with video games managed to put something on screen that kept me thinking several days after. Without spoiling the film I will say that the unanswered questions and bizarre twists or "red herrings" made Beneath extremely interesting as well as thought provoking. A solid cast and excellent editing both keep the pace and emotional tone of the film consistent throughout. All in all I'm glad to have viewed this hidden gem and can't wait to share it with others (especially those who are claustrophobic in any way)." - 3 Stars (Collection worthy)

B4DK - "This one is definitely gonna have you guessing. Is it a creature? Is it something in the air? You never really find out. The mixture of it being completely dark and creepy the entire movie set's it up for some real good jump scares. Anything that makes you feel claustrophobic in my opinion is a winner." - 4 Stars

The Creature From the CombiCombs - "I definitely recommend watching this film but heed my warning, if you are claustrophobic in any way, beware. This one will drive you crazy. I had a bit of anxiety and claustrophobia all the way through. Such a tense movie! I loved the story, I just wish it more of an explanation. There is a lot left up to the viewer here to piece together. The effects were great, so much creepiness and wtf moments spread out through the film. There were a few moments where I felt it was starting to drag a little but was quickly slapped in the face for thinking that. Nobody likes being trapped, especially in extremely tight spaces, don't be ashamed if you have to stand up and walk outside for a quick moment." - 3.5 Stars

Ice Giant - "Not having any idea what this movie was about was awesome. I always love when I'm going into a movie blind and it turns out to be a gem. They really do a good job with the CG effects, just giving you glimpses and not leaving it up there to long. Beneath was also intensified by the fact that I have claustrophobia and just the idea of being trapped in a mine was enough to freak me out." - 4.5 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Let me start by saying I stumbled upon Ben Ketai's Beneath looking for Larry Fessenden's film of the same title. It was a little strange to find a film of the same name/genre that was released the same year, although both films are set in drastically different settings. Well I guess you could argue they both relate to the less traveled parts of earth and trapping characters in those settings is a device to force exploration within the human animal. This is a really interesting concept too but Ben Ketai's Beneath gets a lot of slack for being "The Decent without monsters." And even though we are left with some room to determine what actually happened beneath the ground, most audiences sum up the events to whatever it is they were breathing. I actually think this film may be making a statement on a woman's place in a predominantly male work environment like a coalmine. 
Kelly Noonan plays Samantha Marsh, an environmental law graduate who was put through school by her father George Marsh (Jeff Fahey). Now Samantha (whom everyone calls Sam) is in an awkward position, since it's implied that she works for a group that opposes the type of labor that seems to be this town's life. So naturally the miners tease her for claiming to know about what they do and what's best for them without actually having gone below. It's not until Masek, a fellow miner, proclaims that the mine is no place for a woman that George gives his blessings and agrees to bring her down.
On the way below we get the feeling that she is only welcome because of the respect people have for her father, as it is quite obviously being said that she is bad luck. And that superstition is only further supported when the mine collapses for the first time in over 25 years. What happens after the collapse seems to affect Sam in a unique way and her perspective becomes untrustworthy.

She sees one of the miners pressing his finger into the wound of his coworker. She gasps and realizes she was seeing things. This is an important scene to remember as she is in the safe room breathing oxygen when she has this first hallucination. I'd hate to spoil this first scare for people who haven't seen the film yet but I did warn you above and it's necessary to share this screen shot as it is quit phallic and furthers my theory.
The next visual genital reference seems to be borrowed from The Decent but is just as poignant in this film, as she squeezes through a very vaginal looking cave (if you'd like to hear Neil Marshall talk about how and why he preferred his cave, wet and moist listen to Killer POV's episode 108).

The appearance of this vaginal cave and the misuse of the miners machine on it are what ultimately cause the cave in. This is either a very strong statement about women shaking up a male majority work environment (pardon the pun) or a very unfortunate coincidence. Needless to say Beneath's narrative is very unfriendly to Sam. Even though her father forced her to respect her mother by leaving a note, we get the feeling this is more a ritual than an act of love. And shortly after Sam is birthed out of the canal into the new caves she proceeds to finish off the rest of the male cast. Including the most horrific moment where we are left incomplete darkness as we hear her smash her dads head in. At least that's what I imagined... 
I personally don't think this film was intended to be a think piece about women and how they just can't do some jobs men can but Ben Ketai's finished product does leave me with a lot to work with.

-Lord Battle

*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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