Review: BENEATH (2014)

beneathThere’s something utterly terrifying and claustrophobic about being stuck in tight places, especially when you’re surrounded by people everywhere you turn. It’s no surprise that that fear of those tight spaces is so prevalent in people today, as an individual’s personal space and fear of said personal space being invaded is enough to drive someone completely crazy. It’s that fear and paranoia that comes with the combination of being stuck in those spaces and the lack of oxygen that director Ben Katai’s BENEATH lays its groundwork with, providing not only a large amount of that claustrophobia that so many people fear, but also adding a very character-driven story to the mix.

 

Visiting her family for a party to celebrate the retirement of her father George (Jeff Fahey, PLANET TERROR/BODY PARTS)’s career in coal mining, Samantha (ROAD TO PALOMA‘s Kelly Noonan) is instantly met with ridicule from not only her father’s fellow miners, but also George himself , regarding her choice to become an environmental lawyer, the kind of person who would put a stop to their profession. After calling her out, Samantha puts forth a challenge that she could easily do what they do everyday, a dare that serves to be a catalyst for one hell of a horror thriller.

Led by George, his right hand man Randy (CABIN FEVER & THE SASQUATCH GANG‘s Joey Kern), and the rest of his mining crew, Samantha wakes up early the next morning and heads deep into the mines to see just how hard the day to day grind of mining can be, a difficult experience that is made even more difficult when an accident leaves all of them deep within the mines, closed off from the chance of getting out. Naturally, what then comes, is a setup that is always an excellent one: the lack of oxygen and the canisters containing it begin to dwindle, leaving them all to fight for air, and eventually start to lose their minds in the process.

The character study of giving viewers a group of characters that are genuinely decent people, and putting them into situations in which they become people they typically wouldn’t be and make choices they would typically not make is enthralling and very easy to latch onto in films like BENEATH. As the group runs out of oxygen and begin to unravel and start to go crazy, they not only begin to act weird, but some begin to kill others, and it the film becomes a terrifying look at how quickly people can and WILL turn on each other when placed in a dire situation and all have to desire to escape, even if it means committing acts of horrendous violence.

Fahey and Kern really do a great job stealing the film, as both of them really give very good performances, along with Noonan’s portrayal of a daughter who just wanted to get out of town and never understood why her father would ever spend years of his life, mining. When they all begin to lose it, and Fahey’s real thoughts become to come out, it’s quite a scene, with him telling his daughter that she was always too good for him and it’s her fault that he has to give up the only thing he was good at. The film is full of those kinds of scenes, emotionally resonant and powerful performances, mixed with some intense and violent scenes of death, with the gang not knowing which of them has gone crazy enough to murder.

While the claustrophobia of it all might turn off viewers who have a hard time dealing with that kind of thing, BENEATH does what any horror film should do: gets under your skin, taking you out of your comfort zone and making you think about the situations playing out in front of you.

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2 Responses to “Review: BENEATH (2014)”
  1. Patrick J. Doody says:

    I missed this review the first time around! It’s great. Thanks!

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