It’s a bit frustrating that a film like Beneath the Darkness can scarcely find an actual screen to play on while the universally reviled The Devil Inside is out making January box office history. That’s really neither here nor there but is something that needed saying in my estimation. That being said I do like this film.
While not the most ground-breakingly original in conception this film does feature a rather good teaser. It’s the kind of opening that is vague enough such that you can’t quite connect the dots to how it will factor in later on in the film but you know it will. Not only is it well-done but it’s a quick effective table-setter that adds unease to the next section of the film despite the lightening of tone incumbent thereafter.
In the horror genre substandard to poor performances from the cast are nearly expected and for those most familiar with the genre rather easy to overlook. I’m not sure if it’s that horror generally scares away actors with chops or there is a commitment issue from those involved but that’s really not the case here at all, in fact, much of the success of this film hinges on the fact that it gets good to very good turns by most everyone involved.
Tony Oller has the unenviable task of being a male lead in a horror film which usually doesn’t amount to more than a hill of beans, however, he is the protagonist and carries the movie rather well. Ultimately, he does not fall into tiresome horror movie tropes and is affable and relatable, which lends a level of credence to the plot not easily found.
Were Oller alone in his impressive turn the film would not work nearly as well as it does. Devon Werkheiser also manages to add a layered performance to his character distinguishing him as the good-natured joker of the group, a role which suits his talents very well and then there’s Aimee Teegarden an actress of such abilities that she automatically elevates any genre film she’s in even if she were written into a scream queen type but thankfully she is given some dimension.
So there’s a likable core of leads who despite their missteps we end up rooting for as we should. Now we get to the antagonist. How good is he? This is a film that’s in the psycho mold rather than the slasher mold. It makes the identity of the killer apparent to all except to bumbling local cops, whose aloofness adds some good comedic value but with this higher visibility is the antagonist a good one? Absolutely. Dennis Quaid relishes the role it seems and adds some life to a film that while well-executed wouldn’t have been as memorable otherwise. He’s funny, creepy and believably nuts and really makes it work.
Two other things that really work in this film’s favor are through the voyeurism of our young leads we are left wondering what the precise nature of the antagonist’s oddity is, it could either be a ghost tale or a necrophilic tale. Another wonderful step is that it brilliantly sidesteps it’s biggest opportunity to be incredibly stupid by having their be a disagreement about whether to enter the house.
I saw this movie On Demand and not only was it a great value, which was a given but it was also quite a pleasant surprise. It’s a funny, well done and intriguing little horror tale that pulls off the rare feat of having a nearly flawless core of young leads and an engaging, magnetic antagonist. It’s well worth looking for.