Somehow this was on the top ten movies this week on Netflix, which is just making me angry at this point.
Did you ever watch the movie The Descent, a film about a group of women who go cave diving and encounter humanoid monsters dwelling in the caverns? The movie worked well because it drove home that the claustrophobic conditions of the environment were just as terrifying as the mutated albino monsters. Well, this movie is that, but with some level of traumatic brain damage.
The movie starts off at an Appalachian mine in the 1970s and features a man named Schuttmann played by the massively underappreciated Will Patton losing his son to a monster of some kind. Now in the modern day, we have a group of people whose names are irrelevant driving through the same area trying to find a town called Shookum Hills, which, naturally, used to be a mining town before it “mysteriously vanished.” The supposedly Bad Ass Girl, or “BAG” (Alicia Sanz), is the mercenary hired as the guide for the expedition, which, again, is just into the middle of West Virginia, not Iran. Her main employer is Scientist Douche (Adan Canto) whose big twist will be that he’s doing exactly what you think he’s doing the whole time. They’re joined by Conspiracy Guy (Chinaza Uche) and Gonna Die (William Mark McCullough). You’d think that the film would be merciful enough to introduce these characters quickly and get on with it, but no, we have a while where we’re just watching each of them talk so that we can really be sure that all of these people suck except BAG, who has a past she’s trying to atone for.
Eventually they meet some people who are obviously trying to hide Shookum Hills, to the point that BAG uses their scheme to drive them away in order to actually locate it. The area is surrounded by a massive electrical fence despite the fact that no one lives there or mines there, but the group goes in anyway, somehow not taking this as a screaming warning to bail. They get there and discover a giant hole in the ground. They open it and take some measurements, only for Gonna Die to get pulled in and be dragged off. The locals show up to reveal that the whole area is secretly patrolled and monitored because the hole leads to an underground area where humanoid monsters live. There are apparently a lot of them and they keep trying to come up, but apparently can only use holes that humans dig. The movie glosses over this by referencing a suspected similar group of creatures in the Russian Kola borehole, which is 7 miles underground as opposed to like 300 feet. It’s a dumb reference is what I’m saying. Naturally, the whole town works to keep people away from the creatures and kill them, rather than tell the government about it or the public at large.
I wish I could at least say that the creature designs were good, but the movie blurs heavily whenever they’re onscreen, presumably because of their “toxin.” Realistically, I think it’s because they didn’t quite meet expectations. If you’re doing a monster movie and you don’t have a working monster, that puts a lot more pressure on your acting and filmmaking. Unfortunately, both are lacking in this film, driving home even more how much this was not a good experience. The motivations of the characters are all pretty dumb, as are their actions. They are annoying when they’re onscreen and their deaths aren’t even enjoyably creative. The only bright spot is Will Patton, and that is a small spot.
Overall, I hated this movie and I cannot believe it’s doing so well.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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