From Beneath

2014_from beneathThere is much to be admired in a person of dedication and vision, who will strive, almost singlehandedly, to accomplish their chosen goal, and there is no doubt that on his debut feature, David Doucette, has carried more than his fair share of the weight, as director, writer, cinematographer, editor and co-producer. Unfortunately, in addition to dedication and vision, talent and competence are also required in the movie industry, and evidence of these has yet to be demonstrated.

2014_from beneath 3Opening with a doom guitar laden soundtrack, a man obviously suffering from an extreme infection staggers through a forest lit in the style of an eighties soft rock video carrying a body, which he throws in the water before submerging himself, the title revealed letter by letter so as to protect the viewer from the full terror to be unleashed by… From Beneath. Despite the immediately apparent amateur technical approach, this is one of the better scenes in the film, benefitting from the total lack of dialogue.

Not so the road trip of Jason and his girlfriend Sam, off to visit her sister in the remote farmhouse she has recently moved to with her husband and their two daughters. Any attempt to imbue the couple with individuality as they discuss possible benefits of living beyond the city and the suburbs are killed stone dead by the performances of Jamie Temple and Lauren Watson who deliver their lines in a persistent monotone devoid of inflection or emotion, the extreme close ups which indicate that Doucette was perhaps sat in the lap of the driver while filming doing no favours to either the actors or the script.

2014_from beneath 2Arriving at the farmhouse the pair find the house unlocked but empty, and explore the wilderness before stripping to their underwear to frolic in the stagnant weed filled backyard swamp they describe as a “waterhole;” for this scene alone, Temple and Watson deserve recognition for their own dedication to their craft. Emerging from the water, both find parasites attached to their skin; Jason removes and kills the wormlike creature on Sam, but the one fastened to his own leg has already burrowed under his skin.

Rather than immediately seeking professional medical help, Jason and Sam return to the house to bandage the bloody wound, then spend the majority of the rest of the film constructing reasons to not leave the house or summon an ambulance; the phone is broken, there is no cellphone reception, it’s dark and they don’t know the way even though they only drove there hours before, it’s light and the sun hurts Jason’s eyes, and how can Sam possibly leave him to go get help herself when with his rapidly deteriorating condition it’s more important that with her lack of medical knowledge she stay by his side, other than when she goes wandering off in the woods on her own.

2014_from beneath 1Moving beyond the suspension of disbelief required by the enforced stupidity of the characters, contrived solely to extend the running time to a feature length of 82 painful minutes, the discovery of a decomposing body in a cupboard and subsequent removal from the house embraces presumably unintentional hilarity with Jason revealing the tragic story of a youthful camping trip, a childhood trauma akin to that of Phoebe Cates’ Christmas tale of Gremlins, capped with Watson’s sensitive and tender delivery of the line, “Do you really want to smell your sister’s decaying body?”

With some of the makeup effects seeming to have been applied by black Sharpie pen and a supporting role from the caterer (or possibly catering provided by a supporting actor), From Beneath is without charm, merit or any reason to recommend it, and it would have been preferable had it remained beneath.

From Beneath is released on DVD on 7th April

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