Movie Review: 'Beneath the Dark' aka 'Wake'


At first glance (and even second), the quiet indie thriller Beneath the Dark (aka Wake, to those who prowl the film festival circuit) starts out feeling a bit like the kind of stuff John Dahl makes (damn solid flicks like Red Rock West and Joy Ride), and then feels more like a standard “motel thriller” a la Vacancy or Identity -- but finally in the third act, Beneath the Dark becomes its own movie. Unfortunately it was more interesting when it was copying other flicks.

Sort of a neo-noir that, to its credit, asks you to jump in and keep up with two (and a half) disparate subplots that, of course, are slowly being drawn together. Thread one involves a young couple who are forced to spend the night at an out-of-the-way motel, and the other deals with a clueless schlub whose wife is an obvious adulterer, although he doesn’t know it, and all the people I just mentioned manage to show up at (yep) the same motel.

Also, the familiar-looking hotel manager seems to be hiding something, although that’s pretty much a given in a flick like this.

Bolstered by a few strong performances (Angela Featherstone is particularly amusing) and an impressive air of restraint and pace (almost to a fault, truth be told), Beneath the Dark is yet another low-budget thriller that looks and sounds like “every other” low-budget thriller, and is therefore destined to a quick festival run and then a long life on the video shelves and cable channels. But as a calling-card-type project for first-time writer/director Chad Feehan, there’s certainly enough here to forgive some rough spots, ignore that we saw a twist or two coming, and enjoy a Serling-esque motel thriller pulls off most of what it’s shooting for.