Beneath was a film I had been avoiding for some time on Netflix. The plot sounded too generic to produce anything worthwhile. And while my hesitations proved warranted, the rest of the film had a decent production, especially for the budget, which deserves acknowledgement.
The plot of Beneath stole from just too many films. Scenes throughout reminded me of episodes of X-Files, The Descent, and Below. In fact, this film, with a few outside influences, was just like Below, except in a mine instead of in a submarine. But, Below was a film that made it to the big screen, where Beneath was a little less dispersed. Despite this financial handicap, Beneath was on par with Below in the acting category, with some decent turns all-round, that helped dilute the poison of "yet another" whodunnit in tight quarters.
The last film I can recall a film that did this style right was Devil. It had an even greater ball and chain with a tiny elevator as the setting, but it had the luxury of having established a paranormal presence early on. Beneath didn't seem entirely convinced of its own conclusion of the evil presence, transitioning nuances between cabin fever, rabid infection, and spiritual possession throughout. Normally this would be a benefit to a film as it leaves the viewer guessing. Embarrassingly enough, I can't tell you the concluding factor for the characters' madness. Perhaps it was simply that, madness.
And madness can be a very tricky element in horror to convey properly. Much like the previously discussed dream states of films like The Cell, madness is a delicate motif to convey and properly explain to the audience. Leaving it up in the air, as is the case with many horror mysteries, is a cheap shot to a viewer that was paying close attention to reach a conclusion. I wasn't one, admittedly, that was paying attention all that well, so I can't complain at my lack of a conclusion by the time credits rolled.
The Descent scenes were frustratingly familiar, but as the plot progressed by...well...not progressing, it was sadly evident Beneath had no decent plot fuel beyond its inspirations from other subterranean/whodunnit horror films. It started out developing characters decently enough, but when the chaos begins, so does the character structure become chaotic. As realistic as this may be as the [???]-induced madness takes hold, it was a deterrent to retaining your attention with little to grasp onto. It was like a darker version of Black Hawk Down, in that the first time you watch it you completely lose track of who's who as soon as the helmets go on. Except I'm not going to rewatch Beneath to make sure I got it right. I can live without that definitive knowledge.