Is it really better to deal with the devil you know, rather than the devil below that you don't?...
Twice-nominated at the 2021 Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival, The Devil Below (2021) is one of those films where the concept has true potential. But, the finished product is less than satisfying.
The Devil Below was filmed in Louisville, Kentucky, in the heart of the Appalachian coal-mining country, lending authenticity to the film. It was produced by 1inMM Productions (Voice from the Stone, The Lords of Salem).
Screenwriters Stefan Jaworski and Eric Scherbarth have a handful of solid ideas. Director Bradley “Brad” Parker (Chernobyl Diaries) is a creative storyteller, with a proven visual effects background. Additionally, Parker is ideally suited to a low-budget, evolutionary monster tale.
The Devil Below has a simple plot. Oxford-based geological scientist, Darren Atkins (Adam Canto) hires international tracker Arianne (Alicia Sanz) to guide his team to a mining disaster known as Shookum Hills Mining Company. It is reported to be located somewhere in the United States’ Appalachian Mountains.
But, Shookum Hills, both mine and town, has been erased from the map, literally. The team soon finds that locals are menacing, closed-mouth residents… who advise the research science team to pack up their bags and leave.
Undaunted and guided by Arianne’s expertise, the team sneaks their way into forbidden territory. Grumbling, they hike past locked, electrified fences and through abandoned cabins to find their quarry – the Shookum Hills mine. But, instead of a geological disaster, they find a mysterious grated-off Hell-shaft in the central point of The Devil Below.
As investigations of the mine-shaft begin, one by one, the scientists are dragged downward. The team soon discovers that the mine is populated by a thriving, subterranean, alternate humanoid species that feasts off their prey. And, they have let them out.
Now understanding the fencing and firearms, the remaining team seeks help from the town locals.
The Devil Below is not a total loss. Spanish-born actress Alicia Sanz is excellent, delivering a subtle performance. And, Will Patton, who portrays Schuttmann, the original owner of the disastrous mine, shapes a memorable character.
Unfortunately, all of the rest of the characters are stereotypical and reminiscent of Star Trek’s “red shirts” – predictable monster fodder.
Relationships between the characters are shallow. There is a quick reference by Atkins to his long standing friendship with his team. And, a glimmer of romance is evident between Atkins and Arianne. But, frustratingly, the stories never develop.
All of this having been said, The Devil Below is watchable, even recommended. And, with managed expectations, it can be enjoyable.
The Devil Below is currently streaming on Netflix.
Curious? Check out the trailer for “The Devil Below!”