Beneath the Darkness is a very dark film – and I do not mean that in a film noir sense. I do not even mean that in the same way that I would describe the cellar scenes which close out the action in Silence of the Lambs. This film was dark in the sense that it made me wonder if the filmmakers had paid the electric bill for most of the shooting. It was very difficult to watch many scenes just because it was hard to see what action was going on, and searching for any detail in the shots was a distraction from trying to enjoy the movie.
The movie centers around four friends, Travis (Tony Oller), Abby (Aimee Teegarden, Scream 4), Brian (Stephen Lunsford, Maneater), and Danny (Devon Werkheiser) who witness a friend being murdered. Believing it to be a local creepy mortician named Ely (played by Dennis Quaid), they plot to expose him as the murderer. Ely, however, is a beloved former local football star adored by the town’s residents. From there, every moment of the film seems to roll out exactly as you would suspect – from dialog to plot twists (barely deserving the name) to the background music.
The four actors playing the parts of Travis, Abby, Brian and Danny all seemed pretty stiff in the delivery of the (albeit, badly written) lines. The 2011 film, shot for $7.3 million dollars, could not even be saved by Dennis Quaid (2011′s Footloose), who himself was hamming it up throughout the film.
Director Martin Guigui did not distinguish himself at all with this work, and I have to wonder – could the writers, the actors and the cinematographers and lighting people all be this bad, or is Guigui to blame?
One of the more enjoyable moments in the film is when the four go spying outside a house at night (at least, we think it’s night – it could be high noon in that movie and you’d still trip over a street curb), and just their four faces are illuminated as they huddle in a diamond pattern, staring into a window, looking like the cover of Queen II.
This is a movie which held no surprises at all, and the ending was pretty formulaic. In fact, the movie would have been improved if they had just done the Scooby-Doo ending. It might have been a bright spot in an otherwise dark film.