Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. When the mood strikes, I’ll use this space recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
What is it with bargain bin horror and generic titles? How on earth can your movie gain any traction when no one can remember its name? Today’s selection is Beneath (Netflix), which is a perfectly relevant title since it takes place primarily in a coal mine. That would put our characters beneath tons of rock. So, sure, appropriate. But ten minutes after I saw it I forgot what the exact title was. I’ve seen a dozen movies with similar titles and I’m sure in a week I won’t be able to tell you which one of them was Beneath. Beneath, Below, Behind, Betwixt, Be-BORING.
I’m a stickler for titles, and this one could have had a million better ones. But that’s admittedly a minor (Ha! Miner!) issue. Beneath has bigger problems. Like the central conceit. A coal miner’s daughter (not kidding) comes back to her home town to celebrate her pop’s retirement. The party occurs the night BEFORE his last day at work, which makes exactly zero sense. A few drinks, some bold talk from manly miner types, and suddenly our heroine decides she’ll show these tough guys what’s what by volunteering to spend a day working in the mine. No one has a problem with this. For real? Like it wouldn’t be a huge insurance risk to take an untrained dilettante down into a mine shaft on a bet?
Getting past the silliness of that setup, you have to admire what the writers do here. They clearly did their homework on mining lingo and culture. It gives the movie a ring of authenticity that many low budget horror movies lack. Even if it all kind of spirals into a thoughtless, throwaway ending it’s a pretty tense ride. It even has a brief but terrifying claustrophobia sequence that reminded me of The Descent.
Added bonus: This movie is not Canadian! Usually when you see an unheralded English language horror movie with exactly one known actor (in this case, Jeff Fahey) surrounded by a troupe of nobodies, it’s because it was made in Canada. There are huge financial incentives for shooting in Canada as long as you use a certain number of Canadian actors. Production companies just pay one American “star” to come out and work for a week or two so their movie can pass as a Hollywood feature. I assumed that’s what this was but apparently it’s not. That’s right, your added bonus is me admitting I was wrong. Don’t get used to it.