DISCLAIMER - My blog is an attempt to show respect to films some small minded, intellectually dishonest hipsters automatically label "bad". There is no film I discuss here that I believe to be bad at all. The title of the blog comes from a discussion that took place some years ago when I was trying to explain the appeal of these films. The title is not meant to suggest I think these films are bad in the least. Remember - ART IS ART
Sometimes I really disappoint myself. Sometimes I let a jewel of a film go unwatched for far too long. Tonight film is one of them - a modern day classic with jolts and scares to spare.
The film begins in a mental institution, where the writer, director and star - Ted Radford (played with creepy perfection by Arthur Roberts) of a 40 year old slasher film has been committed. The key to his madness appears to be the very film he made - a picture called The Dark Beneath. Radford's doctor decides perhaps the best therapy will be to show Radford the film and confront him with his own obsession in spite of the warning from Dr. Wayne (played by Michael Swan). The film is started for Radford and Dr. Wayne has to leave.
When he returns he finds the hospital a bloody mess. Clearly many people were murdered but not a single body can be found. This was one of the most effective opening sequences I've seen in modern horror film in quite some time. Creepily atmospheric and engaging...I knew then I had made a wise choice in my evening film viewing.
Five years have passed since the events at the hospital, and a small, single screen theater is showing a midnight movie....The Dark Beneath. Before the film begins we are introduced to the films protagonists. Some of the characters are better developed than others, however, they are not the standard cookie-cutter late teens you generally find in films. Also in attendance is a biker dude and his girlfriend, who were two characters I thought would be cast offs, with little development and nothing to do. Nevertheless, those two characters play against type and I felt really showcased the fine writing and directing skill of Jack Messitt.
With our characters in place, including the ten year old little brother of the theater manager, The Dark Beneath is started and what begins is a spooky and well done film within a film. Not an entirely uncommon trope (Purple Rose of Cairo and The Last Action Hero) but never has it been played for scares. And be patient while watching because you'll believe there are flaws in the logic of our heroes, but, as the film continues the apparent logical mistakes are absolved.
The cast is small but amazing -
Rebekah Brandes as Bridget
Daniel Bonjour as Josh
Greg Cirulnick as Mario
Mandell Maughan as Samantha
Stan Ellsworth as Harley
Melissa Steach as Babe
Jon Briddell as Detective Doug Barrons
Michael Swan as Doctor Dave Wayne
Michael Schwartz as Sully
Justin Baric as Timmy
Brea Grant as Rachael
Shawn Ausmus as Kenny
Arthur Roberts as Ted Radford
Despite many in the cast being quite young you'll see some familiar faces, including Daniel Bonjour who just finished a small stint in a recent season of the Walking Dead. I have to admit I was very taken with the cast.
However, I'm clearly in the minority if you do some reading about this film on other sites (except that the "kills" are good - c'mon folks - even a hardcore genre movie lover like me gets a little put off when reviewers discuss "good kills". What can I say, I'm an old fart). Still, I will share one of the less enthusiastic reviews so that you can get both sides.
Review of Midnight Movie from Horror Movie A Day
But, in my point of view, there are worse ways to spend 85 minutes. I caught the film on Hulu but, it may be available elsewhere. Also, for those who enjoy having the actual disk, there is a special edition floating around that is probably worth a look and I will try to pick up a copy at the next Con I go to or perhaps Dark Delicacies in Burbank.