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HTF Review: Beneath
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Posted July 20 2007 - 09:00 AM
Directed by Dagen Merrill
Studio: MTV Films
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 81 mins
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Release Date: August 7, 2007
Review Date: July 20, 2007
There is a stigma about movies that forgo a theatrical release and are first seen on video. With the notable exception of “The Boondock Saints,” I cannot think of a single film released directly to video that I though was worth my time as a critical viewer. Sadly “Beneath” is no exception. Shot on a low budget and featuring a confusing plotline and production qualities that scream “TV Movie of the Week,” “Beneath” is a less-than-super(natural) mystery/thriller.
Starring Nora Zehetner (of “Heroes”) as Christy, a young woman who “sees things” after a car crash claimed her sister’s life and nearly took her own. The death of the man who raised her brings Christy back to her roots, forcing her to confront the demons that torment her every waking moment and the reality of a world beyond common perception. Along the way Christy connects with a niece she barely knew and a creepy niece with a digital camera and fixation with all things demonic.
The primary problem with this film, superseding the editing, acting, and design concerns, is the laborious, cliché-filled script. Everything from the sinister-mater to the child-with-visions is covered, and none of it particularly well. The filmmakers, in their attempts at misdirection, end up presenting a predictable movie that relies on confusing their audience with simple tricks instead of imparting any sense of true horror.
Nora Zehetner is the film’s only saving grace. Not only is she beautiful, her slow, contemplative delivery brings a sense of reality to the otherwise-ridiculous proceedings. The bulk of the actors recite their lines in a stilted, unreal fashion. It is as much a product of the script—which had me consistently asking “who talks like that?”—as it is the fault of the performers.
Predictable scripting, stilted dialogue, mediocre performances and a manipulative score results in a movie that attempts to misdirect but merely confuses. “Beneath” attempts trickery and seeks to be clever, but in the end all that is left is an at-best short story with a decent, if nonsensical, twist.
The 1.85:1 Anamorphic video quality on this disc is pretty good. Colors are solid, there was a little ringing obvious during the film’s titles, but I didn’t notice it again. Black crush was not a problem. Overall I have no complaints about the video quality.
The audio, like the video, is perfectly passable. The default, and only available track, is a Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation that is nicely spread across the main channels, and the subwoofer is used sparingly. The surround channels could be better implemented, but the track conveys the information required for the viewer to become immersed in the film.
Aside from a smattering of trailers for Paramount product, there are no extra features included on this DVD.
I can’t say that “Beneath” is a particularly bad film. It is not, however, particularly good. Mediocre in every sense, from editing to story to acting, I cannot recommend “Beneath.”