Beneath Us All
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 31m
Director(s): Harley Wallen
Writer(s): Bret Miller
Cast: Sean Whalen, Yan Birch, Maria Olsen, Angelica Danielle Cama, Kaiti Wallen, Harley Wallen, Malachi Myles, Hanna Wallen, Emilia Wallen
Where To Watch: releasing September 19, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: If you haven’t heard of Harley Wallen, you should remedy that; my guess is within a few years, the entire horror community will know the name. This is the third film I’ve reviewed of his, following ASH AND BONE and THE DEVIL’S LEFT HAND and this was my favorite of the three! BENEATH US ALL is like a mesmerizing dance between historical folktales and the sharp echoes of dark fantasies. With the resurrection of the age-old vampire, Frey (Yan Birch), we’re thrust into a cinematic adventure that spans time and emotion.
Taking us to present-day Oakland, Maine, and coupling it with the mystical vibes of 912 AD Scandinavia, BENEATH US ALL is a chilling passport that travels between eras. But it isn't just about the places or times—it's about the people. The artistry of Alex Gasparetto's cinematography paints not just scenes but whole sagas on the silver screen. The initial Viking sequences, imbued with evocative aural landscapes, wrap the audience in a cocoon of suspense. Bret Miller’s thoughtful dialogue creates memories from the words spoken on the screen that amplify the film beyond just the visuals.
Enter Julie, portrayed by Angelina Danielle Cama. She's our eyes and ears in the intricate world of the foster care system. (I know I’m throwing a lot at you here, but it somehow works.) But it’s not just any story of a foster child; it's about confronting personal ghosts, particularly her tension-filled ties with foster father Todd Gibbs, thanks to Sean Whalen's compelling enactment. Amidst her turmoil, the ancient Frey stands tall, at once her protector and a specter looming large in her life.
Yet, the realm of BENEATH US ALL is vast. While Julie might be at the center, Detective Booker, Harley Wallen’s role, dives deep into mysterious happenings. His investigative arc gives the plot texture. Kaiti Wallen's portrayal of Rebecca, a beacon of societal challenges, adds another layer, giving voice to the dilemmas faced by devoted social workers. The part that stands out to me the most about Wallen’s films is that they all have depth; these characters are human. Even in THE DEVIL’S LEFT HAND, which suffered because it relied on bad CGI, the characters still stood out.
Those with a penchant for horror will find familiar shadows here—echoes of the great tales of yore. But Wallen ensures that these nods to the past don’t overshadow the human essence of the story. Whether it's Maria Olsen's poignant scenes as Janelle Gibbs or Sean Whalen’s complex characterization, the movie marries the human spirit with supernatural undertones. And let’s not forget Birch's Frey – a character drenched not just in dread but layered with a gamut of feelings, climaxing in a scene that promises to linger in minds.
The movie is a canvas of artistic choices – be it the makeup that brings characters alive, visuals that stun, or period-accurate attire. The difference in care in detail from THE DEVIL’S LEFT HAND to this is night and day. I don’t mean to pick on that film; these are indie features, and they’re not meant to look as solid and put together as this did.
In the crowded corridors of horror films, Wallen crafts a distinct narrative with the help of Bret Miller's penmanship. Their combined efforts yield a cinematic journey that's not only about shadows and screams but deeply rooted in human frailties and strengths.
All said and done, BENEATH US ALL is more than jump scares and dark hallways. It's a deep dive into the human psyche, societal intricacies, and the ethereal unknown. It’s a narrative crafted not just for shivers but for reflection. Wallen doesn't just give us another horror flick; he gifts an odyssey that challenges, entertains, and redefines. So, while he still has plenty of room to grow, this is a monumental step in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what he does next!
For more reviews, please visit – https://linktr.ee/Overlyhonestmoviereviews for more info.
Follow me on Letterboxd, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Find my social media accounts on most platforms simply by searching Overly Honest Movie Reviews.
I’m always happy to hear from my readers; please say hi or send me any questions about movies.
[photo courtesy of DESKPOP ENTERTAINMENT]
MY SAG-AFTRA/WGA STRIKE STATEMENT:
As an advocate for creators, actors, and writers, I firmly stand with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA in their current strike. The entertainment industry is built on these individuals' extraordinary talents, and their contributions must be appropriately recognized and rewarded. They deserve fair compensation, sensible work hours, and respect for their creative rights. I believe in the power of unity and collective action, and I'm steadfast in my support for their fight for better working conditions and fair remuneration. Together, we can shape a more equitable future in the entertainment world.
#SAGAFTRA #WGA #SAGAFTRAStrong #WGAStrong