Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Review: From Beneath

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2016
Images from the Internet

From Beneath
Written and directed by David Doucette
Midnight Releasing / Retaliation Films / MVD Visual
82 minutes, 2012

Eddie Murphy was correct in Delirious (1983): some people just don’t know when to “get the fuck out,” even when it’s not because of ghosts.

After a nicely done and creepy opening prologue, we meet young and in love couple Sam (Lauren Watson) and Jason (Jamie Temple), who are on their way to her sister’s family’s house in the woods. In real life, this is fun, in a horror movie, it only leads to trouble.

Lauren Watson
When they get there, the relations are missing, and the couple go for a swim on a hot day in a cool pond. Again, normally fine, but in cinema world, watch out. He gets either bit by something and now has a wormy thingy get inside his calf. Over the next 24 hours, it gets infected and worse. And they never do not the area around the house. In the real world, we recently found a tick attached to my wife’s side, so we went to Emerg at the local hospital to get it taken off cleanly. Not this couple, no, they stay because it is dark outside and they don’t want to get lost. With that and complications that follow, I would have been out the door and taken the chance on the road. But, again, some people never know when to leave. By the time they do, more than a day later, the car is disabled, natch. .

You and I know it’s only going to get worse over time, and it progresses quickly, but they still don’t leave as whatever it is from the water starts taking over Jason; apparently, it only takes over males from the storyline. What, is it because women are actually more logical and less macho, so whatever it is, is attracted to stubbornness?

While only taking place over a few short days that we never see them eat anything, the film time seems a bit longer, as this is essentially is a two-person story. After a year-long relationship, he is still stereotypically commitment-phobic, and yet she stays with him, even during his decent into…whatever it is inside of him making him become.

As always, I’m not going to give too much of the story away, but its conclusion is basically a train track leading in a single direction. And the coda doesn’t really make much sense, as there is no intimacy between the couple in the time we know them. You want details? See the film.

Most of the movie is filmed well, with a some cinematic themes that recur, such as zooming in during a series of jarring shots with each one a bit closer than the previous: bam-bam-bam (not sure if I’m explaining this well). It’s effective and not overdone, thankfully. Perhaps because much of it is shot at night in low light or a florescent light is used, or perhaps for effect, the image tends to be heavily on a yellowish hue side. Nothing wrong with that, just sayin’. One nice aspect is how the sound is split, with the two main characters mainly heard in either the left or right channel.

The creature SFX is okay, though shown extremely sparingly (budgetary, I am going to suppose), and the make-up effects are mostly good. The sores look extremely well done, yet the vein lines that emanate from the wounds look like, well, make-up.

The acting is…decent (Watson fares much better than Temple), though it’s the writing that is a bit on the weak side, honestly. It’s hard to feel empathy for the characters, though not for anything they do or don’t do, and that’s where the story line is lacking. It’s a conundrum of being both wordy (i.e., dialogue heavy) without investing the viewer into it (well, this one, anyway). Part of that is due to the characters stay past the point of reality. There are just too many times when credulity is past, jumping the shark past the willingness of suspension of disbelief tipping point.

The extras are a 13-minute meh gag reel called “A Peek Between the Takes” that mainly focuses on the errors behind the camera more than in front, a too-long at (23 minutes) one-camera interview with the Director, Doucette, and producer (and seems like co-director) Ashe Morrison, two trailers, and some other company trailers as well. Rather than the interview part, listen to the audio commentary track with both Doucette and Morrison, which is a bit more interesting.

Did I enjoy the experience. Yeah, it was a fun 82 minutes. It’s important to note that it’s the director’s first feature, and often those are the “learning moments” releases. Remember, even Francis Ford Coppola started with Dementia 13 (1963). Perhaps his next will be that much better!

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