Nora Zehetner as Christy in Beneath (2007)

On the Surface Horror

As horror movies go the most shocking thing about "Beneath" is that it is a MTV production and I say shocking because rather than being all flashy edits we have a traditional creepy house horror. But maybe if "Beneath" had been more flashy it would have been better because whilst there is nothing majorly wrong it is rather ordinary and by the book when it comes to style, performances and pacing. And to be honest whilst it is nice to watch a horror which is all about the mystery it never once manages to get your skin crawling or your hair standing on end in dreaded expectation.

On her fourteenth birthday Vanessa let her young sister Christy drive her car but it leads to an accident which whilst Christy was thrown from the car Vanessa suffered masses burns to her whole body as it went up in flames. Whilst Christy is treated in a psychiatric hospital Vanessa is treated at home by her husband Dr. John Locke and nurse Claire wells but 6 months after the accident Vanessa dies of a heart attack except at the funeral Christy is convinced that Vanessa is alive in the coffin. Six years later Christy returns to Edgemont for a funeral and it brings back strong memories and visions which leads Christy to start snooping and looking for answers as she is convinced that Vanessa was buried alive.

Matthew Settle as John in Beneath (2007)

I don't remember having watched "Beneath" before or another movie which uses the same storyline but the thing is that it is very familiar. It has that feel of a story having been adapted into a movie which stays to a strict schedule as if someone had run statistics on other popular horror movies and worked out when things should happen, what camera angles to use and what visual style worked best. It means that whilst we have this mystery which sees Christy having visions and trying to discover the truth it all feels very familiar and generic. It is why in the end whilst not terrible "Beneath" is ultimately forgettable because it is far too similar to too many other movies.

Having said all that there was something which disappointed me about "Beneath" and it is probably a knock on problem from feeling too similar and that is not once did it have me on the edge of my seat. Here we have a movie which starts with a car crash, we have scary confusing visions, a young girl seeming in a trance with a big knife as well as an old house with hidden passages but not once did I feel an air of ominous danger. And it needed that sense of anything could happen, that sense of danger to keep you interested when everything else seemed so familiar.

In the end the most entertaining "Beneath" gets is thanks to a trio of performances with young Jessica Amlee as Amy doing a solid job of the slightly messed up young daughter. Then there is Matthew Settle as John who in fairness does have a certain unsettling quality about him but in a way it feels stereotypical as if his character was a blend of other horror characters. And that is the same with Nora Zehetner as Christy because whilst Zehetner delivers a character who is easy to follow the haunted sister needing answers is a cliche.

What this all boils down to is that "Beneath" is very much a middle of the road horror which almost feels like someone has studied what made other horror movies work from pacing to camera work and then used that data to make it. It means that ultimately "Beneath" is quite dull because it is too similar to so many other horror movies with nothing to make it stand out or be memorable.