Beneath (2007)


You scan through a lot of very bland-looking titles if you're a hardcore horror fan. Once you've seen at least a thousand half-decent horror movies, you can often tell a lot by a DVD cover. I wouldn't have given Dagen Merrill's "Beneath" a second glance were it not for the production company (MTV Films), the distributor (Paramount), and the fact that a few familiar hotties have roles in it. So skeptical-yet-hopeful, I tossed the disc in and hoped for the best.

That attitude lasted fifteen minutes, max. The movie opens in the most predictable of places: a horrific car accident that takes the life of a young woman and leaves her little sister cowering and bloody. Flash forward to several years later, and Christy is returning to her drab little hometown to attend a funeral. To say she's greeted rather coldly would be an understatement, but the townsfolks' disdain for Christy is just beginning...

Enter the horror elements. Christy is haunted by horrific visions, painful memories, and the nagging suspicion that her big sister was buried alive all those years ago. Her theory is met with skepticism and ridicule, and everything just wanders around in that one big circle until we arrive at the typically paint-by-numbers finale. Were it not for a few stray profanities and a slight dose of visual unpleasantness, you'd be positive that "Beneath" was originally produced as an ABC Movie of the Week. (And it's about as scary as an episode of "Unsolved

The young director has his visual style set firmly on bland -- which could be the fault of a skimpy production budget, sure. But then who do we blame for the patently generic and consistently predictable screenplay? (I guess that'd be Merrill and co-writer Kevin Burke ... both first-timers.) There's not even a real highlight among the cast that's worth mentioning. Leading lady Zora Zehetner looks to have the corner marketed on Katie Holmes' old "vacant stare," while co-stars Matthew Settle and Gabrielle Rose do very little to elevate the bland material. The adorable Carly Pope has about eight minutes of screen time.

I "get" that companies like MTV want to market their flicks to the teens of the world, but I can't imagine who the producers thought they'd impress with "Beneath." (Today's teens have pretty short attention spans, I'm told.) Basically, while it's by no means awful, the movie's as effortlessly forgettable as its title. I watched the thing two nights ago (sober) and I can't even remember what happened at the end!