Not every movie has a high ideal, trying to tell an intricate complex story, sometimes they just keep it pretty darn simple. "Beneath" doesn't reinvent the wheel by any stretch of the imagination but takes a simple and basic survival story that has been done by some of the best in the business and puts it in a classic horror milieu.
When a group of young friends commemorating their high school graduation take a trip to the remote 'Black Lake', their well intentioned celebration turns into a nightmare. Trapped in a leaking boat with no oars, the teens face the ultimate test of friendship and sacrifice during a terror stricken fight for survival when they find that something they could have never imagined is living just beneath the surface.
I'll be the first to admit that at first glance, "Beneath" looks like some crappy uber low budget crap, but it manages to rise above that if only a little bit thanks to some excellent execution and belief in the premise of the story that was being told.
One half creature feature and other half attempted tribute to Alfred Hitchcock's "Lifeboat", director Larry Fessenden manages to work some pretty decent movie magic on this micro budget feature. Though it seems simple enough, putting a bunch of kids on a boat in the middle of the lake and making it feel genuinely isolated is a technically challenging conceit to manage but he does it here rather effectively. He maximizes the simple things like ripple of the water on the surface of the lake, the slow trickle of water into the boat and having the oar...just out of reach. It's not rocket science, but it works very very well and that in concert with the practical effects of what looks like a big ass catfish makes for an effective blend that avoids any Roger Corman-esque buffoonery and generates some legitimate creature feature tension as this young ensemble begins to tear themselves apart.
Even though the script had some genuinely hokey moments at times, this young ensemble cast did at least manage to keep the narrative on the right track as the terror underneath the water was quickly matched by the intensity they had while sparring back and forth. With the exception of veteran actor Mark Margolis who excels at being creepy and weird as the enigmatic Mr Parks, there are no genuinely familiar faces in this one, and it honestly works to its overall benefit as a believable story.
Picture and sound quality on the BD are certainly good enough and the special features on this one include a feature length audio commentary track by Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, a look at the making of "Beneath", the theatrical trailer, Larry Fessenden on the importance of "Jaws" in the horror canon and other behind the scenes looks at the film as well as coming with a downloadable digital copy for your phone or mobile device.
Hardly high art, but "Beneath" does just enough right to at least peak my curiosity as this story successfully kept my attention against odds that would suggest the exact opposite.
2 out of 5 stars.