Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chad Feehan's BENEATH THE DARK gets limited theatrical & VOD release

It might seem easy (and maybe a little nasty) to call BENEATH THE DARK -- the first full-length film from writer/
director/producer Chad Feehan -- beneath contempt. But that wouldn't be fair. Feehan's film, in fact, pretty well straddles contempt, rarely venturing beneath it during the 102-minute running-time (which begins to seem like 1002 before the movie's over). About five minutes into this oh-god-no, it's-exactly-what-I- thought-it-was movie, a near-event appears to occur, about which (if you've seen many movies in your lifetime) you will form an opinion as to what has really happened.  Sure enough, around 80 minutes later, you'll learn that you were right. This is not exactly fun. Nor are the intervening minutes.

Beneath the Dark is one of those movies where an attractive young couple checks into a very odd motel and spend the rest of the film regretting it. Usually some suspense and fright makes those minutes go by a little faster. Not here. Instead Feehan (shown at right) serves up oodles of guilt, and not just from our non-hero, played with two notes -- upset and anger -- by Josh Stewartwho is shown below, near left (with Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and who was much better in The Collector). Guilt also seems to be the driving force behind the sad loser who manages the motel (Chris Browning, who gives by far the film's best performance). There's a connection here, as there is to the Browning character's slutty wife (Angela Featherstone). But that connection is a long time coming and it, too, you'll have figured out about a week before the movie-maker clues you in.

Feehan's film -- which is basically one of those what's-going-on-here? movies --  hops from present to past and back again without much dexterity.  The director has put this together rather sloppily, with the details often seem-ing "off."  We appear to be in the era before cell phones and DVD players, and yet the video camera (shown in flashback a full decade previous!) reads "high resolu-tion." Go figure.

If this were the worst of the sins, I'd forget it, but oh, god, all the talk!  Much of this is about, in fact, god and the devil and paying for the sins of the past, so we know we're in fishy territory -- even if the fellow who brings all this up is played by that wonderful actor Afemo Omilami (an old friend from my 1980s legit theater days). The music, too, tends toward this theme with a song about the devil heard playing every time the jukebox and radio are turned on. The actors all emote up a storm, mostly to the embarrassment of us viewers, since so little else is going on -- and to boot, the "solution" to the "mystery" is precisely what you suspected it was, five minutes into the movie.

Beneath the Dark opened this past week in New York City at the IFC Center (in a very limited theatrical release: 4:30pm only, Monday through Wednesday) and concurrently from IFC On-Demand. Click here to determine its availability in your area.

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