Directed by Ben Katai
It’s longtime miner George Marsh’s (Jeff Fahey) last day of work. I guess it also happens to be “take your daughter to work” day, because he does just that. Spitfire Samantha (Kelly Noonan) is an environmentalist whose politics mix with her father’s like coal and water, but she wants to be there for the last day. Along for the ride down below is Sam’s old boyfriend, Randy Bennings (Joey Kern), and a handful of salty sappers.
Before their eyes can even adjust to the dark, a drilling machine malfunctions and drives a huge hole through a supporting wall. A cave-in kills a slew of workers and others go missing in the melee. The survivors make their way to a rescue chamber and wait for help… but it’s just too claustrophobic and crazy-making. Eventually, they venture out in search of the source of the screams they keep hearing… convinced it’s their comrades. But of course, this is a horror movie and those are no friends.
After uncovering evidence of a near-identical disaster almost 100 years in the past, Sam and her dad realize their present circumstance is even more dire than they ever could have imagined.
Unfortunately for every mine-movie of the 21st century, there will be comparisons to The Descent. Nothing can compare to The Descent, at least not yet. Nine years on, and it’s still strong. So — how’s Beneath, based on its own merits? Not bad.
Fahey is fab, and the familial relationship between him and Noonan is sold well and proper. The characters are pretty well-developed, the dialogue’s above-par given the context, and the setting and situation are innately eerie. There’s a particularly gripping moment when, after an argument, dad and daughter go their separate ways and she finds herself trapped inside a tiny tunnel that is being made smaller still by the pickaxe attacks of an unknown antagonist… will she be punctured by the ax, or will she suffocate first?
While the zinger ending was kind of a “womp-womp!” moment for me, and I detested the persistent shaky-cam, I still recommend Beneath as a good thriller for a dark night of Netflixing.
2 1/2 out of 5