Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Below (2002, David Twohy)


David Twohy has mastered the art of the B-movie and relies on good old fashioned solid movie craftsmanship. Below is a throw back to old school haunted house movies with a modern twist, although it is set during WW II on an American submarine. After the sub picks up a few survivors weird things begin to happen on deck. Unexplainable and very creepy things. It doesn’t help matters that a German warship is chasing after them, or that the previous captain of the sub died under mysterious circumstances. Even before bizarre events start occurring the ship’s crew is rattled and nervous, which reminds me of a classic submarine movie, Das Boot (1981). This film benefits from its all cast of Bruce Greenwood, Olivia Williams, Matthew Davis, Holt McCallany, Scott Foley, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Flemyng and Dexter Fletcher. Its funny watching Flemyng, who is British, play an American crew member, and you also have Galifianakis in a rare dramatic role, which he should play more often because he’s rather good here. The film largely relies on atmosphere, which is laid on thick, and there are very few jump scare moments so the ones that pop up are utilized to heavy effect. Also Bruce Greenwood is the stoic replacement captain, and as the film goes on he slowly loses his grip on reality and what is really going on.

What I really also like about this movie is the banter between the crewmen, which feels realistic, and also the fact that Twohy resists many haunted house style cliches, choosing to attempt a movie that has both style and subsistence. Although there really isn’t much else to Below besides some political and social commentary that is not really explored, the film itself is another example of Twhoy’s talents as a director. Plus I really like Olivia Williams as an actress-she has a quiet grace to her, and she has played both sympathetic and antagonist roles in the past and in the present. Plus that ending is wonderfully mysterious, giving the viewer cause to question certain events and wonder about fate, and what possibly happened.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Adominable Snowman (1957, Val Guest)


Despite staring Peter Cushing, The Abominable Snowman is one of Hammer Studios’ lesser films, one that would have benefited from the touch of a better director. While Val Guest attempts to set up the film’s atmosphere and make it creepy or at least entertaining, the movie stalls midway through and lacks quality pacing and style. Oh and the Yetis are merely hinted at and never shown, which is puzzling for a movie with “Abominable Snowman” in the title. Which is really disappointing, because Hammer Studios has always been known for wicked cool special effects and creatures that at their best look terrifying and unique. I understand that Guest was going for a psychological supernatural effect yet since the film never really goes anywhere it doesn’t work.

Still this movie isn’t a complete waste, as I liked Forrest Tucker and Cushing’s interactions with each other, presenting gruff harsh individualistic Americanism versus quiet, refined British ideals. Once we actually get to see one of the Snowman its a cool sight, which once again makes me wonder why the film waits so long to present the titular creatures. That would be the equivalent of making a Godzilla movie that only has Godzilla pop up near the end of the movie. Despite being a mixed bag I found this movie watchable at times, and I liked the ending I guess. I almost wonder if this film is a prime candidate for a remake, but there have been plenty of killer Yeti movies over the years so probably not.

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