Two Thrillers from eOne Films
Beneath the Darkness (March 5/12)
Beneath the Darkness follows four teenagers (Aimee Teegarden's Abby, Tony Oller's Travis, Stephen Lunsford's Brian, and Devon Werkheiser's Danny) as they become convinced that a local funeral home is haunted, with the kids' ongoing investigation inevitably raising the ire of the creepy mortician (Dennis Quaid's Ely) that resides within said home. There's little doubt that Beneath the Darkness, before it morphs into a truly interminable experience, begins with a fair amount of promise, as director Martin Guigui, working from a script by Bruce Wilkinson, opens the movie with an odd yet striking sequence in which Quaid's sinister Ely buries another character alive for reasons unknown. From there, however, the film morphs into an all-too-typical teen thriller revolving primarily around the protagonists' distressingly dull exploits - with the less-than-engrossing atmosphere compounded by characters that couldn't possibly be more uninteresting and bland. It doesn't help, either, that Guigui has suffused the proceedings with a handful of pointless, time-wasting interludes (eg one of the heroes attempts to break another out of hospital), which only perpetuates the feeling that too much of Beneath the Darkness consists of boring characters doing boring things. And although Quaid's eccentric performance does inject the movie with short-lived (and much-needed) bursts of energy, Beneath the Darkness ultimately comes off as a pervasively underwhelming thriller that wears out its welcome almost immediately.
Reykjavík - Rotterdam (March 5/12)
Though competently made and nicely acted, Reykjavík - Rotterdam is simply unable to overcome the pervasively familiar nature of its well-worn storyline - which effectively (and ultimately) does cement its place as a rather underwhelming and forgettable thriller. The movie follows affable family man Kristófer (Baltasar Kormákur) as he's drawn into one last smuggling job after his brother-in-law gets into some trouble, with Kristófer's subsequent efforts at pulling off the seemingly simple gig inevitably fraught with problems and complications. Filmmaker Óskar Jónasson has infused Reykjavík - Rotterdam with a decidedly slow pace that does, initially, serve the material quite well, as the subdued atmosphere proves instrumental in transforming Kormákur's character into a likeable, relatable figure. The ongoing inclusion of darkly comedic asides and interludes perpetuates the movie's agreeable vibe, although, by that same token, it's clear that the film is simply never able to become the wholeheartedly compelling piece of work Jónasson has undoubtedly intended - with the narrative's deliberateness growing increasingly problematic as time progresses (ie the relaxed pace only highlights the familiar, by-the-numbers nature of the movie's storyline). It is, as such, not terribly surprising to note that Reykjavík - Rotterdam fizzles out demonstrably in the buildup to its less-than-captivating climax, with the end result a disappointingly conventional endeavor that does, at the very least, fare better than its nigh disastrous American remake.