Beneath the Darkness (2011)
(15) Running time: 96 minutes
Director: Martin Guigui
Writer: Bruce Wilkinson
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Tony Oller, Aimee Teegarden
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
After seeing the trailer for Beneath the Darkness, like many, the thought of watching Dennis Quaid go all psycho on screen was too much to resist. There were a couple of scenes in the trailer which hinted that this film would be both dark, violent and mixing it all up with some good old psycho babble and black humour. This film had none of that, and my advice is just watch the trailer, you don’t need to see anything else. Beneath the Darkness is a painful, boring, sluggish watch that brings nothing new to the psycho genre, and doesn’t even pay any respects to films which have come before.
The plot see’s teenager Travis (Oller) still suffering after the death of his sister, and he believes he saw some sort of ghost when the incident happened. He persuades a few friends to break into local mortician Ely’s (Quaid) house in the hope of seeing some sort of paranormal entity. What they find is Ely’s dead wife, all dressed up and well presented, and it turns out the bonkers Ely enjoys dancing with his deceased wife. The friends are disrupted when Ely returns home (it’s his house for God sake), and they attempt a swift exit down the stairs right in front of the maniac. He lets them go, all but one and explains how “stairs can be dangerous things” and with that throws one of them head first down the stairs in a terrible display of acting. You can almost see the two actors count to three before Quaid impersonates a throwing motion while the other pretends to fall. However, a further stamp on the head provides the one and only highlight to this film. Turns out Ely is a few sandwiches short of a picnic, a bit mental, you know, a bit of a screw loose with a bit of a temper on him. The kids then go about raising their concerns with the local police and trying to convince them that the local mortician is a cold blooded killer. As with all these sorts of films, telling the police anything proves difficult when it comes to a respectable member of the community, and so the kids have to do it all by themselves. Sound familiar?
The film then plods along at a boring, kill yourself inducing pace and I struggled to keep my eyes open. Zero tension, very little violence and plot devices which come and go and quite literally bring nothing to the film. In fact, the whole stupid story barely leads anywhere, and events and characters merely just exist rather than feed the films plot development. Quaid does deliver his role as a psycho relatively well, but sadly the script throws in far too many one liners and awful back and forth’s. It also appears that the director was desperate for Quaid to look as bonkers as he can, so the respected actor strolls around the film with wide eyes, he sometimes shakes, he sometimes laughs, he has a metal cigarette in his mouth and he totally overacts, but not in a good way. Sorry Mr Quaid, I do enjoy you normally in films, but here you have been sorely wasted, and you don’t scare me. The film really does go nowhere fast, and it has trouble deciding if it should be a parody of psycho thrillers or a serious dark story. The film is completely lost, it has no idea of its true identity and is total waste of your time. I wouldn’t even make my worst enemy watch it!