Review of Beneath the Darkness


Movie Review: "Beneath the Darkness"

In "Beneath the Darkness," Screen Actors Guild award winner Dennis Quaid plays the role of Ely Vaughn, a respected citizen in the close-knit Smithville community of Texas. After all, he was a celebrated quarterback back in his high school days, got married the mayor's daughter (now deceased) and is the local mortician. However, beneath his old school charm and vibe, Ely has skeletons hidden in the dark corners of his spooky funeral home.

The mortician's dark past begins to unfurl after a curious lad named Travis, played by Tony Oller, who does odd jobs around the home notices his employer dancing with a ghost one night. Travis has believed in the paranormal since he was a kid. He narrates to Abby (Aimee Teegarden) about seeing a dark spectral beside his sister's bed on the night she passed away when he was seven. Thus, he is convinced that Ely Vaughn is engaged in supernatural activities. He shares these sentiments with his high school buddies Abby, Brian (Stephen Lunsford) and Danny (Devon Werkheiser), who are naturally mesmerized, skeptical and ready for an adventure.

The four teens venture out to Ely's funeral home one night and misguidedly decide to break in. Upon entering, they discover that ghosts don't really exist, but Ely engages in strange activities inside his creepy funeral home. Unfortunately, the mortician catches the group of wide-eyed truants red-handed, and his true nature comes out. He murders Danny as they watch, but conveniently changes the story when Sergeant Nickerson, played by Peter Brett, a gullible but somehow intuitive cop, asks questions. Everyone believes Ely's fallacy except the three high school buddies who know the whole story.

Obviously, Ely does not wish for anyone to find out the truth. Thus, he embarks on a plan to eradicate the three teenagers before they can tarnish his good standing in the community. The plot is pretty direct from there onward, as the crazy mortician pursues the teenagers around town while they attempt to prove his guilt.

"Beneath the Darkness" is not a typical smash box-office flick. It is a mystery movie that is full of suspense. It is rated R, making it suitable for teenagers above sixteen years. It runs for one hour and 38 minutes, providing plenty of action and suspenseful moments for viewers.

The star-studded cast of the movie, which includes Globe award winner Dennis Quaid, "Friday Night Lights" actress Aimee Teegarden and "West Wing's" Peter Brett Cullen, perform satisfactorily on the set. Critics argue that some of the actors did not give their best performances as per the roles. However, the cast members are partially blameless since the storyline, at times, goes on a tangent.

"Beneath the Darkness" screenwriter Bruce Wilkinson and director Martin Guigui are better placed to explain the movie's shortcomings. Martin is an experienced director with almost ten movies under his name. Bruce had also worked on numerous movies and TV series before his demise. Nevertheless, considering the movie had a budget of only $7 million, the director had a lot riding on his shoulders.

The director tries his best to bring out the creepy small town effect in the film. Quaid's over-the-top acting is refreshing, but the storyline is easy to predict. Even the graveyard scene near the end, which is supposed to be the climax, does not have a strange twist that keeps the movie exciting. "Beneath the Darkness" received funding from Sunset Pictures, and pre-production started in late 2010. It seems like there was a rush to finish the movie, which explains some of the easy-to-notice gaffes in the film. For instance, the scene where Travis gets a flashback of misty black creatures has no contribution to the overall storyline whatsoever.

The movie "Beneath the Darkness" opened in US theatres on January 6, 2012. DVD and Blu-ray versions were available as from February 28, 2012. Studio reception was lukewarm, mainly because box office favorites, such as "The Dark Knight Rises," "Amazing Spider-Man," "Piranha 3-D," and "The Avengers," were scheduled for release at the same time.

All in all, "Beneath the Darkness" is a good DVD to watch when there is nothing else to do at the house. All the cloak and dagger surprises, creepy hallways, moving shadows and dark cemetery scenes, which make a good horror movie, are incorporated here. The director also selected a good bunch of actors and actresses to tell the story. Lately, TV has become saturated with sci-fi flicks. "Beneath the Darkness" takes viewers back to the good old days of teen horror movies.