I have what one might call a complicated relationship with Chiller original programming, especially movies. The main issue is, I want to like them, since the eventual Blu-ray release will most definitely be released by Shout!/Scream, but in most cases, I don’t. In all honesty, despite its shortcomings, Beneath has been the first Chiller original movie that I have found any sort of enjoyment in. That’s not to say that it is a great movie, because it is not. It still very much retains that “Made-for-TV” feel. That is to say, it looks cheap, and for the most part, especially as far as the acting is concerned, you definitely “get what you pay for”, so to speak. Still, I found myself wanting to continue watching, where as in past releases, like Remains or Dead Souls, I just couldn’t even power through to the end without pausing dozens of times for smoke breaks, and fiddling around with my tablet and phone. One of the things that really sets Beneath apart from the rest, is the shocking lack of awful looking CGI. We’ll get to that in a little bit, though, but I just wanted to put that out there up front. A lot of people can’t stand watching movies like this, because of the terribly rendered computer animations of the monster we’re supposed to fear. You get none of that here, so perhaps you might be more inclined to give it its day in court.
The star of the show here, and what really sets this apart from the rest of the Chiller TV original movies(I haven’t cracked Dead Shadows open yet.) is the practical monster effects, and puppet work. There is no CGI fish here, it is a straight up, oldschool animatronic killer fish. Most people complain so much about CGI in film, that they don’t even bother to praise the opposite when it is given to them. Well I’m not one of those persons. I fully respect the fact that Larry Fessenden gave to us, an actual oldschool monster film, with a giant puppet as the main baddie. It might not be the best example of this type of film-making, but it is certainly more than most of what we’re given, especially with made-for-TV films like this. Look, I like Sharknado as much as the next guy, but it has nothing to do with the special effects/makeup work. More often than not these films not only take the CG route, but they don’t even bother to invest money into a great animator, so we’re left with laughably bad representations of that which we are supposed to fear. And what happens is the opposite. We laugh. That’s why we watch those movies in the first place, to laugh.
while I can totally understand how this is not going to be a movie that is enjoyed by all, if you stay up-to-date with things like this like some of us do, I think you will understand why I found it to be a breath of fresh air, within its specific genre. It does absolutely nothing to break the mold, and has no intentions of revolutionizing the industry. But, it knows what it is, and doesn’t do much to stray from that core concept. I’m not sure if any of you reading this watched any of the other Chiller originals, Dead Souls or Remains, but good, they were not. I’m not even entirely sure that I would go so far as to call Beneath “good”, but it is definitely serviceable, and I found it quite entertaining, personally. They could have fleshed out their character’s back stories a little better, so that we could be clued in on the emotions that led to the squabbling on the boat when trying to stay alive, but it’s not a deal-breaker. There are also references to other similar films, including Jaws, Shark Night 3D, and several others. If you can get past the fact that this is a low budget, made-for-TV monster movie, and embrace the better-than-average special effects, you might find a little enjoyment here yourself.
The Blu-ray itself is in-line with pretty much all Shout!/Scream releases. It was handled with care, and given quite a bit of behind-the-scenes footage in the form of extras, in case when the credits roll, you’re left wanting for more. The picture quality is good, but it is definitely a digital production. The picture quality is good for what it is, and the sound quality is better, of course, than you would have if you watched it on Chiller. There’s not much you really have to do with these new release movies. Port us over the best video transfer you can from the clean source, and give us the best audio track that you can fit on the disc, along with extras, and a snazzy main menu. On that front, Scream Factory have delivered, as they always do. Beneath is available as of today, from Scream Factory, and you may purchase your copy from here. Also, if you’ll look around on their site, you can get get a promo code to save a little bit on your order of Beneath, as well as coupon codes for future orders as well.
- Commentary with director Larry Fessenden and sound designer Graham Reznick
- Theatrical Trailer
- Behind BENEATH
- Webisodes: What the Zeke? What’s in Black Lake?
- Fessenden on JAWS