Beneath the Darkness (Blu-ray)
Directed by Martin Guigui
What do you say about a movie that doesn't even try to say anything remotely interesting itself? That's my biggest issue with reviewing Beneath the Darkness- the movie is so bland and uninteresting that there's just nothing terribly interesting to write about the film, good or bad. It's just there, and that's about it.
The story in Beneath the Darkness is simple enough- Dennis Quaid stars as a small town mortician named Ely Vaughn, a man who has always been the 'creepy guy' of Smithville, Texas, but for good reason- apparently, he's a huge fan of killing people and then dancing around with the corpses he keeps laying around. We soon meet a group of curious Smithville teens (led by Aimee Teegarden and Tony Oller) who decide to get to their 'Scooby Gang' on and get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding Ely. Of course, the hapless teens get way more than they bargained for and soon find themselves fighting to survive against the maniacal Ely.
If you think that's a pretty basic outline of Beneath the Darkness, that's because the movie itself is rather basic- it's a paint-by-numbers thriller that borrows heavily from many other films but never really offers up anything new for viewers. The story has the potential to go to some rather dark extremes, but rather than offer any real thrills, director Martin Guigui plays it way too safe and the film suffers for it.
The teens in Beneath the Darkness don't even seem to be trying (that's a pity, too; I'm a huge fan of Teegarden's work on "Friday Night Lights" and enjoyed her cameo in Scream 4, but here even she seemed bored) with Quaid being the only motivated cast member in the flick as he clearly tried to have some fun with the role of Ely and add a some flavor to an otherwise bland affair. It's only fair to point out that the cast really didn't have much to work with on Beneath the Darkness so the generally lackluster performances aren't really their fault.
Beneath the Darkness does have great production value, and the look of the film really pops on the Blu-ray presentation; clearly Guigui and his DP Massimo Zeri had a vision in mind for the flick and it shows. It's too sad that the cinematography couldn't make up for all the other elements that were lacking in Beneath the Darkness or perhaps I may have enjoyed myself more.
For supplemental material, the Beneath the Darkness Blu-ray features a trailer and a standard behind-the-scenes featurette which was rather entertaining. However, the fact that there is a lack of a commentary track on Beneath the Darkness speaks volumes about this project as a whole- although I would have loved to hear Guigui speak more about the movie, if only to gain insight as to what went wrong.
Suffice to say that horror fans should steer clear of Beneath the Darkness if you've grown tired of the paint-by-number thrillers that seem to be plaguing the genre lately. Unless you're in it for Quaid (and again, he does his damnedest here), there's really no reason to check out the flick unless you're looking to cure some insomnia. Beneath the Darkness had so much potential but never really tried to go anywhere truly unique or interesting at all and ended up being one of the blandest thrillers I've seen in a while.
2 out of 5