Revealed to be a Mediocre Creature Feature The Devil Below (2021) Sinks
Title: The Devil Below
First Wide Release: March 5, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Bradley Parker
Writer: Eric Scherbarth, Stefan Jaworski
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Alicia Sanz, Adan Canto, Will Patton
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Arianne (Alicia Sanz) is tasked with leading an expedition of four researchers into the Appalachians to find the remnants of a long-lost mining town said to be consumed by fire and abandoned years ago. When the group begins poking around, mentioning their desire to see Shookum Hills, they are met with hostility from the locals and are literally driven out of town. Not letting this deter them, they eventually find their way to the abandoned site crossing an electrical fence, a creek, and a valley before discovering the true horror beneath the surface.
A derivative and plodding venture underground, The Devil Below doesn’t stray too far from the surface with its lack of scares and action.
It’s hard to believe the universe that The Devil Below creates. The creatures at the center of the film’s plot are locked underneath a very unstable region of the earth and no one thought to eradicate them when their existence was first proved? It feels even more silly considering how the film ends. Why didn’t they just do that from the beginning? Instead, the film could have been about the original attack, which could still justify the film’s existence in a more logical manner. Instead, we are led to believe that characters that are no longer ignorant to the problem, have the means to end it, and the ability to do and, just don't do it?
Hypotheticals aside, the plot never progresses beyond its weak setup. Clunky dialogue in the form of exposition dumps and witty one-liners serves to keep the story going at a languid pace. As written, the characters never progress beyond the small boxes they are written in making them bland and forgettable. The so-so acting doesn’t do them any favors either. Once more motivations are revealed, it falls into even more familiar territory and kills off the remainder of believability that the film once held.
Lethargic and confused, The Devil Below tries to capitalize off the claustrophobia and novelty of its setting but fails. The cave system looks and feels like a series of hallways that only gets tight here and there. Secret tunnels that lead to the surface are conveniently located whenever the crew is in a tight spot–which makes the earlier containment of the monster even more unbelievable. Darkness shrouds the film. And by darkness, I mean, it is hard to distinguish what is going on half the time. The camera is often distorted in weird filters to hide the action sequences. The climax is muddled by blurry images and a general disorienting feeling that makes it more confusing than exciting.
While the pros are scarce, there are some aspects of The Devil Below to commend. The creature effects serve as a throwback to old sci-fi horror classics that used practical effects or relied on simple rubber suit monster creations. There are also a few well-filmed sequences that adequately capture the terror and fantastic nature of the situation. While they don’t quite reach edge-of-your-seat suspense, it does get tense at times when it is called for. It acts as a perfectly serviceable, below average horror film that would fit perfectly in a Syfy channel weekend lineup.
The Devil Below is a low-budget, underground horror film that never goes that deep beneath the surface to be enjoyable. It’s painfully by-the-numbers in every single plot device, character death, and twist that it throws at the viewer. A cool premise and shooting location can’t do much to save the film from its own mediocrity. Perhaps with a stronger script and more restrained take on monsters lurking beneath the surface could it prove to be more effective. If you’re looking for something to strike fear deep within your heart, do yourself a favor and look elsewhere.
Overall Score? 4/10