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Horror fans deserve better than The Devil Below

Visual effects auteur Bradley Parker steps back behind the camera after a nine-year hiatus in The Devil Below from Vertical Entertainment. There is an abandoned place nestled deep in the Appalachian country where underground coal mines have been ablaze for decades. When a team of researchers tries to find out how the fires started, they soon discover something more startling than the mystery that sent them there: they're not alone.

Forty years ago, miner Paul (Will Patton) lost his son to a mysterious being while on the job as a Forman for the Shookum Hills mining company. In the present day, Ariana (Alicia Sanz) is a pro in her field of cave-dwelling. She's hired by corporate shill Darren (Adan Canto) to find out what happened to Paul's son is just a myth. Naturally, the film has several horror film tropes the scientist Shawn (Chinazza Uche), the security Jamie (Zach Avery), and the techie Terry (Johnathan Sadowski). Of course, the film has one purpose: to find ways to kill off the characters after they ignore Paul's warnings.

Bradley Parker found great success serving as visual effects supervisor on films such as Jingle Jangle and Let Me In. Sadly his directorial debut 2012's Chernobyl Diaries was a colossal stinker, and his follow-up isn't much better. I will give credit to screenwriters Stefan Jaworski and Eric Scherbarth for opening the movie effectively when Paul's son meets an untimely fate. However, after that, the film falls into typical horror film tropes.

The cast is on autopilot here, and everyone is here for a paycheck. The only actor of note who turns in an ok performance is Will Patton, and the entire movie should've focused on him. I think the biggest issue with the film is the delay in showing the monsters. Having characters get killed can go so far before it becomes repetitive. I also didn't find the monster's effects particularly compelling given the director's background.

Horror junkies may find something to enjoy in The Devil Below, but everyone should steer clear.

Final Grade D-

The Devil Below is in Select Theaters, VOD & Digital today March 5, 2021


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