“Beneath Us All” is a noteworthy addition to the indie horror genre which has several contributions from many filmmakers each year.
This particular film showcases the evolution of filmmaker Harvey Wallen whose last feature film “Ash and Bone” we got to review earlier this year.
“Beneath Us All” not only serves as a testament to Wallen‘s passion for the genre but also as evidence of his growth as a horror storyteller.
While firmly rooted in the realm of indie filmmaking, Wallen ventures beyond the typical boundaries, delivering a narrative that defies genre conventions and offers viewers an engaging, albeit unconventional, cinematic experience.
In this film, the story is about Julie a foster child heading for her 18th birthday when she finds something buried with something unspeakable inside. Something sinister that unleashes a world of danger that she is not known to.
Julie (played by Angelina Danielle Cama) is a foster child growing up in a rather unusual household led by Todd (played by Sean Whalen) and Janelle Gibbs (played by Maria Olsen). It doesn’t appear to be a safe home for her since Todd is extremely abusive to the kids.
Julie stumbles upon something mysterious hidden in the backwoods. She inadvertently unleashes a creature from the past, one that has an appetite for human prey. The creature resembles a man but doesn’t behave like one. And as you would expect from films of this kind, the more it feeds the more it grows stronger and more dangerous.
Julie is confronted with the choice of helping this creature as it consumes all that and inevitably risks endangering the lives of people around her. Throughout the film, Julie’s dilemma is exposed to strong decisions that diverge from the typical horror narrative structure.
The overall acting in this film is great and far from the cheese-fest that is specific to most indie films. All the lead characters are more than convincing in their roles and delivery.
Cinematic-wise, “Beneath Us All” is far from a visual masterpiece. But it shows the growth of Wallen as a filmmaker, particularly taking “Ash and Bone” into perspective. He takes advantage of light, shadows as well as SFX and minimal VFX to complete the terror that this creature possesses. But that is entirely the tone of the film. It is dark and gloomy exuding fear and death.
You are kept at the edge of your seat fearing what could be lurking in the dark.
Bret Miller the writer of the film also does great at making sure that the origins of the creature make sense and are justifiable. Many films fall in the category that leaves a sour taste in your mouth with several unanswered questions, particularly about the origins of the murderous, mythical creatures and how they pose a threat to the present day. Miller does this right by providing some introspective depth into the narrative that makes you not only focus on what is happening in the present day but also on what happened in the past. He ties the film’s plot into Viking history perfectly and even though it is all fictional it just makes sense and works for the story being told.
There are however a few characters in the film that seem a bit underused, especially because their roles seem essential to the story.
Certainly, “Beneath Us All” undeniably portrays certain imperfections and rough edges characteristic of small-budget indie films. However, it also showcases noticeable improvement compared to the previous collaboration between the director and the writer.
For these reasons, I would assign a rating of 7 out of 10 to this film.
“Beneath Us All” may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate a director’s willingness to experiment and grow within the genre, it may not be a cinematic masterpiece but certainly worth a watch.