Beneath the Darkness

| February 27, 2012

Most of the frights in the 2011 film Beneath the Darkness come from Dennis Quaid’s intensely violent character Ely. As the local embalmer who seems to kill people when he’s in a bad mood, Quaid provides a serious level of creepiness that never quite frightened me but instead, left me with a rather uneasy feeling.
Four Texas teenagers become strangely fascinated with the idea of ghosts living in the local funeral home. They begin stalking, spying and trespassing on poor Ely the mortician, who becomes more than just a little upset when he finds they have broken into his home and uncovered a sick secret. He murders a boy named Danny as Travis, a young man also familiar with death, watches. But, of course the local authorities don’t believe the teen’s story over Ely’s, who claims Danny fell down the stairs. Travis and the remaining kids decide to take Ely on and uncover his secret themselves.
Following the first ten minutes of this film which provided a brief moment of terror, this predictable story never quite had me on the edge of my seat. Rather flimsy characters and dialogue that excessively illustrated each moment kept me from ever taking this movie seriously. Every dumb thing the teenagers decided to do made me wonder how I could care about anything that happened to them. Throughout the film, and especially during the final scene, I started to wonder if the filmmakers’ intention was B-horror camp. Thinking back to the attempt at some teenage romance between Travis and his friend Abby convinces me the whole film was meant to be taken seriously. An oddly placed paranormal theme added to the awkwardness of the narrative and counts as one of the many story lines that is never clearly resolved.
Personally, my biggest disappointment was Dennis Quaid. Some of my favorite characters are villains. I love it when a really great bad guy scares the pants off me. I especially love it when an actor you’d never suspect pulls off a really evil character. In the first few minutes of the film I thought Quaid might be this surprise bad guy. But there was nothing interesting about Ely the mortician. His dialogue invoked laughter and his actions, while sometimes shocking, were just more bothersome to watch than anything else. Beneath the Darkness provided minor thrills and major ridiculousness.

About the Author:

Kylah Magee received an MA in film studies from Chapman University and a music degree from Texas State. She has worked with the LA Film Festival and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. She owns and operates Nine Muses Studio where she teaches private voice lessons in Austin, TX.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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