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Rated 2.97 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Coal Miner's Daughter
by Betty Jo Tucker

A woman goes

into a mine

to prove she can.

What will she find?


The guys with her

include her dad.

So if she’s scared,

it won’t be bad.


But who could guess

the fate they’ll face

from what’s unleashed

in this dark place?


Trapped underground,

the miners change.

Is it their minds –

or something strange?


Beneath could be

a horror flick

that satisfies --

and fans would pick.  


But mine collapse

breeds fear enough.

So there’s no need

for ghoulish stuff.


Who will survive?

It seems quite clear,

which spoils the fun

and dulls the fear.


When the daughter -- a New York lawyer -- of a coal miner agrees to spend her father’s last day before retirement on the job with him, she has no idea what’s in store for her. And neither do the other miners descending 600 feet underground that fateful day. Beneath tells the story of what happens when the mine collapses -- and how the members of this unlucky group react while being trapped. Faced with toxic air and weird occurrences in the caverns around them, they begin to turn on each other. Although the actors and setting seem believable here, the film’s opening shot ruins much of the suspense I like to feel while watching movies of this genre. And that set the tone for my negative reaction to Beneath. Predictability may be the enemy of ANY motion picture, but especially when the offering is a thriller or horror movie. 

Still, excellent performances almost saved Beneath for me. Kelly Noonan (Haunt), Jeff Fahey (Machete), and Joey Karn (Cabin Fever) stand out. Noonan plays Samantha, an environmental lawyer trying to understand the work her father has spent 35 years doing; Fahey portrays the father, who isn’t too happy about his daughter’s profession; and Karn is Samantha’s ex-boyfriend. I’m quite impressed by the way Noonan projects the changes in Samantha’s character as the story progresses. Fahey always gets to me, and his fine work in Beneath is no exception. Plus Karn delivers the goods as a sensitive guy trying to protect Samantha while chaos reigns.

And regarding that chaos, the eerie supernatural elements depicted here are a bit hard to follow because of the dark cinematography. Director Ben Ketal (Megan) probably realizes -- like Alfred Hitchcock -- that what we imagine can be more frightening than what we see in a movie. I hope Ketal -- who shows considerable potential -- borrows more from Hitchcock in future films, especially the importance of emphasizing surprises instead of predictable outcomes.    

(Released by IFC Midnight; not rated by MPAA.)

For more information about Beneath, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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