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Beneath Still Waters

Directed by Brian Yuzna

Written by Matthew Costello, Mike Hostench, Angel Sala

Starring Michael McKell, Raquel Merono, Charlotte Salt, Patrick Gordon

Produced by Julio Fernandez

Rated R

100 minutes

****

Okay, everybody remain calm. This is a Brian Yuzna movie, and that means one of two things. It will be either amazing, or it will be godawful. There are no mediocre Brian Yuzna movies that I know of, yet, so brace yourself.

And what Yuzna sets out for us this time looks fairly familiar. The village of Marienbad in northern Spain has had a whole lot of unpleasant stuff going on in it (if you’re thinking “Dagon” at this point you’re in good company—I sure did, and it scared me half to death). But anyway, the Spanish government is about to flood the village and surrounding valley, sealing the evil away under several million gallons of water.

But as you’ve probably gathered, it didn’t do the job, and now what’s haunting the village of Marinbad is poised to get out. And when it does, all hell will break loose. Granted, that sounds way too much like “Dagon” for anyone’s comfort, but I’ve got to admit, they do a pretty solid job of things. They pack just enough vague warnings and ominous signs into things to make you wonder just what, exactly, it is that’s coming out of the shadowy depths.

Even better, the explanations are just gradual enough to hold interest. Not so slow as to be boring, and not so fast as to give everything away, but at a decent clip that keeps you watching. Better yet, that keeps you glad you watched.

And as if that weren’t good enough, finally, FINALLY, the true value of special effects are shown. Not as a purpose, like the Matrix movies did so often with their burly brawls and such, but as an aside, a little extra spice to add to the narrative. Yuzna uses some incredible effects work from Fantastic Factory to add flavor to his work—just enough, mind you—and the judiciousness with which they are used is just as much a credit to Yuzna’s work as their overall quality. They’re fantastic, and used only to best effect.

The ending is an excellent display of the celebrating town’s descent into madness, followed up by lots of demon-blasting goodness. The loose ends are tied up nicely as well, and that makes for no small satisfaction. Even better, there’s a note of suspense here. For once, the ending is not telegraphed, but there is at least one moment when all appears lost.

And even better…a twist ending that comes out of nowhere. Watch the credits to get the whole picture. Alteast, the last few seconds.

The special features includes English and Spanish subtitles, plus trailers for the After Dark Horrorfest, “Gravedancers,” “Unrest,” “Diary of a Cannibal,” “Gamebox 1.0,” “Alien Invasion: Arizona.”

All in all, it’s another real winner from Brian Yuzna, proving once again that the man is clinically incapable of doing mediocre movies.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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