Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Devil Below

If only it were Mole People like in the Superman movie or the 1956 drive-in classic (with Hugh Beaumont) that came up from this abandoned mine. Instead, the miners encountered something much more infernal and nether-regional. They did their best to seal it up to protect the outside world, but outsiders come snooping anyway in Bradley Parker’s The Devil Below, which releases this Friday on VOD.

It must take an awful lot for hardened miners in coal country to walk away from a perfectly good mine. Presumably, it was not merely the combustible minerals Darren, a dodgy academic, claims to be investigating. He drags a rag-tag team deep into Appalachia in search of the Shookum Mine, which literally disappeared off maps in the 1970s. The locals do their best to run Darren’s party off, but Ariana, the guide he hired, is unusually (and unfortunately) resourceful.

Eventually, they breach the old barricaded mine, at which point all heck literally breaks loose. Yep, it turns out the locals had a darned good reason for trying to keep them out. Ariana already felt the need for redemption after he last ill-fated expedition. Now, she will need a double-helping.

Devil Below
is a nice twist on horror movie traditions, which usually cast hill-and-holler folk as freaky predatory outsiders. In this case, they are the thin red[neck] line, protecting the world from demons or whatever. It also does not hurt having veteran character actor Will Patton portraying the leader of the guardian militia. He really sells the crazy premise with his grizzled gravitas.

It is a good thing Patton is on-board, because the crew Darren leads is a pretty bland and boring lot. Alicia Sanz shows some decent genre-action chops as Ariana, but it is not a particularly complex or emotionally engaging portrayal.

Regardless, Parker does a nice job grounding the film in coal country. He conveys the traditional spookiness of Appalachia, while showing respect for the people who live there. The creatures are pretty creepy, while the enormous Shookum Mine locale is impressively cinematic. Recommended for genre fans, especially Hollow Earthers,
The Devil Below releases this Friday (3/5) on VOD.