It’s George Marsh’s (Jeff Fahey) final day working in the mine in which he has worked for thirty years. His environmental lawyer daughter Judith (Molly Hagan) takes this as the last chance to see what her father did for a living first hand so decides to come down in to the mine for a few hours to experience the work of a miner. After a mining drill causes a collapse, they and the crew become trapped six hundred feet below ground. Unable to escape they must wait for rescue but they might not be as alone as they first thought.
The trapped underground sub-genre reached its peak with Neil Marshal’s The Descent and its difficult not to think about that film as Beneath plays out. The story itself isn’t exactly a new or original one and Beneath is definitely influenced by The Descent. Having said that, surprisingly, Beneath is slightly more than just a minor entry into the category even if we haven’t unearthed a diamond.
Starting off from a place of cliché, the guys last day on the job, the vulnerable character who ventures into the place where surely nothing can go wrong, the group made up of the rookie, the love interest, the old professionals, Beneath actually moves along at a good pace and becomes a fairly enjoyable little horror. The acting is all solid and it has quite a few fun little jump scares that are bolstered by some good special effects. You may not care too much about the characters, let alone actually remember their names, but the film creates good mystery as to what is really going on in the mine. Beneath makes fairly good use of its confined location to create some claustrophobia and paranoia, occasionally with scenes even playing out in total darkness. Any claustrophobic viewers may find themselves feeling a little on edge during a couple of scenes.
There are a few problems with the film, such as how they are all apparently able to breath the air in the confined shaft despite them often going on about how it will be poisonous and spending most of their time looking for oxygen canisters, but the main problem with the film, which lies like a layer of Carbon Monoxide over all of it, is the card at the beginning of the film telling you that it is based on a true story. This fact is at best superfluous and at the very worst damaging to your enjoyment of the film. Beneath pushes itself into supernatural and fairly unexplained territory, something which arguably can be considered the result of the main protagonist’s fracturing psyche, and while this would be fine on its own, indeed most of the film sets itself up to allow you to go with it, there is always a niggling thought at the back of your mind that this definitely didn’t happen in the real life events which then undermines the content of the film. The opening fact is apparently to lend the story a credence of truth but when the filmmakers take their film into fantastical territory, it instead becomes damaging.
If you can try to ignore the pointless true story posturing then you’ll find that Beneath is a fairly enjoyable underground romp, with a couple of good scares and a good enough pace to keep you going through to its end.