The Dark Below
If you don’t have a drowning phobia, you will after seeing A Dark Below. In 75 tense minutes the film tells its story almost non-verbally and with an incredible amount of non-gory violence.
The plot follows a man who decides to kill his wife by dressing her in full scuba gear and shoving her under the ice of a frozen lake. Seeing the man using his boot to push her under the water is incredibly hard to watch. From there, as she struggles, we go into flashback and see how they came together and the events that led up to the man’s homicidal endeavor.
The underwater photography brilliantly captures the horror of the woman’s situation and sense of being trapped and isolated. Telling the story without dialogue was an interesting choice, but I found myself asking what the point was other than to prove that it could be done. In place of speech, there is an endless brooding soundtrack and after a while the verbal silence just became a little bit of a gimmick that got a lot old.
A Dark Below is an interesting experiment as a film and it definitely has its moments (plus a cameo by Veronica Cartwright). Parts of it are riveting, but its chosen format causes some pacing issues and the story itself suffers from stretched plausibility. Even so it’s a fun watch that plays well on the big screen.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.