A group of teenage caricatures break into the house of the town’s resident ‘creepy guy,’ only to discover he’s been keeping his dead wife’s corpse in the spare bedroom. Beneath The Darkness takes a decent plot, most recently utilized in films like Disturbia and the remake of Fright Night, and goes its own way. Only this time, the path is short and uneventful.
Dennis Quaid is Mr. Ely, Smithville’s mortician. We meet him as he kidnaps an old friend, makes the man dig up a bodiless grave, and proceeds to bury him alive while telling him he knows what he did. Immediately, two basic plot ideas popped into my head: either this dude killed someone and is getting the Frailty treatment or he banged Mr. Ely’s wife. From here, carry the story through Scream high school territory and then move into waiting for Shia LaBeouf to see something through the rear window. Throw in some examples that make it obvious the writer has been out of high school for some time, and make sure you have one of those moms written in – you know, one of those types that almost appears to be a stand-in – and you get the most consistent part of the movie’s plot. Add a second layer that has the main teenager character seeing ghosts and angels and hearing disembodied voices once when he was 7 years old, and I don’t understand what’s going on. This part of the movie is so disconnected that I’m thinking there had been a ton of rewrites or someone used a stick of dynamite in the editing bay. The most disturbing part is I just did my research on the writer and this was his only screenplay produced. Note I said was. Bruce Wilkinson passed away in March of 2011. More than likely Beneath the Darkness was a completely different piece before it was chopped up, redone, and only given a ‘Written By Bruce Wilkinson’ credit because of his passing.
The Blu-ray is fine, but far from spectacular. The DVD includes a behind-the-scenes piece that is literally behind the scenes – it’s a camera behind the camera as a few scenes are filmed and it’s less than two minutes long. There’s also a trailer and the most annoying menu I’ve ever encountered. I feel bad for the musical artist that is featured because I am certain countless others will never listen to their band again after the minute long loop of a song that plays during the menu.
The one redeeming factor in this movie is Dennis Quaid. As psychotic Mr. Ely, Quaid excels. Yet I have the sneaking suspicion that he doesn’t have to try very hard. Perhaps in the 20 years since the peak of his career he’s felt the sting of once in a blue moon hits and has honed the anger. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mess with him as his simple delivery and breathing had me tense with anxiety over when he’d snap next. It’s too bad he didn’t have more to work with.
Beneath the Darkness is simple and to the point, though it did leave me with one burning question: where did that parade come from?
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