Thursday, May 29, 2014

Beneath



*

My personal dislike for Beneath really has nothing to do with Larry Fessenden as much as the characters in his film and the laughable monster fish, a joke that wouldn’t even scare my kids. It is right out of the 70s. Maybe that will be part of this film’s charm…Lord knows the film needed some charm considering the loathsome characters we must tolerate for 85 minutes. Granted they are brats right out of high school, self-absorbed and debating each other’s worth when a hole in their boat causes leaking, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t get on my nerves. And they really are an endurance test, I think.

 I personally really liked Habit, and Wendigo might just be his best film, but Beneath did him no favors. If anything it seems to discredit his directorial talents. Still, with these cretins in a boat, stuck out in the middle of a lake with a silly rubber monster fish (which looks even less convincing in all the many close up shots), Fessenden had nothing much to work with. He does incorporate the use of a camera rather well (one among the group is a wannabe filmmaker and narcissistic nerd who leads his peeps into removing “weight” in order to survive, move the boat, while using occupants “taking up valuable space” as bait to divert attention away from the big fish) as it records moments in the film and allows Fessenden to include a different perspective of the events transpiring and incriminates at the end of the film. Bonnie Dennison (I know her as the daughter of a female cop on The Third Watch, a television show that was popular for a time on NBC) is the cute blond (not a hottie as all the guys of the cast seem to believe) so desirable to the guys which might explain how she makes it up until the end. The character certain to turn stomachs is Jonny Orsini’s Simon, the obvious antagonist who would betray his own brother (Guess what? He has a brother played by Chris Conroy). 

The scene where Griffin Newman is begging and pleading for his life, trying to turn brother against brother with information about Bonnie, not long after convincing the others to send their “friend” (friendship takes a back seat to saving one’s own ass in this film), Johnny (Daniel Zovatto) overboard as a distraction for the monster fish, ends up leaving no impact whatsoever other than applause. 

Certain to disturb is the use of their friend (played by Mackenzie Rosman of 7th Heaven) who suffers a nasty, bleeding-profusely flesh wound on the arm, as a means to row from the fish, opting to pray for her before dumping her body overboard so it would eat her and leave them along so they could paddle away! 

I kind of saw a little of Jaws 2 and the tale, The Raft, from Creepshow 2 while watching Beneath, except both of them were far better and more entertaining (and scarier). Characters trapped in the middle of the lake, a monster not letting them get to freedom, and falling one by one (mostly due to their own carelessness and inability to work together without tearing each other apart, with plenty of bickering, accusations, and infighting) to it.

Although the wrong person makes it to the end, character actor Mark Margolis (of Breaking Bad) is there to provide us with a lasting satisfaction that the scumbag doesn’t get away with all his terrible deeds…karma comes back to bite him, and rightfully so. I did find myself at one point in the film emotionally invested when a character I actually liked is able to successfully make it to shore (although this seemed rather implausible as the monster fish was swimming right toward him, closing in fast). Then he decides to actually try and help the very ones who sent him swimming! Admittedly, like the other guys, he was google-eyed for Bonnie so that seemed like reason enough to play the hero, but it costs him dearly. I considered it quite a waste, but his heroism is the only selfless act we see in this damned movie. Fessenden has been involved in some turkeys, but this time his name is in the director’s chair…Beneath is a rather unfortunate turd he will always be associated with. Too bad.

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