UndergroundA US special forces detail descends into an underground military facility, charged with destroying whatever they find. In the hazy green glow of their night-vision goggles and cameras, we see them genuinely torn apart by a savage and overwhelming group of creatures.

Two years later, the facility is seemingly abandoned and a late night rave is taking place above ground. When a fight breaks out, a small group of friends lock themselves into the facility, before then realising they will have to work their way through it in order to make their way out the other side. And they are not alone.

*****

Underground is not without its moments. The prologue attack is gruesome and effective, the creature design and effects are above par and most of the acting is passable. Unfortunately, these positives are utterly undone by some unforgivable sloppiness in the shooting, directing and editing. The central premise is part The Descent, part The Hills Have Eyes II, part pretty much any other “locked in a military facility with whatever they’ve been engineering down there” film you might care to mention. The fact that there is nothing new on show is neither here nor there, it is the cack-handed manner in which so much of the components are handled that in the end proves to hamstring the final product.

The way in which the fight breaks out and the friends find themselves trapped is handled well enough, but then the film’s geography and editing go all to hell. Characters are side by side one minute, then yards apart, being picked off without any explanation. A character will be in one location, then immediately in another and we have no idea how they got there. We are told that there will be an escape hatch further into the facility (two of the group are soldiers, returned to the US from serving overseas), but we just cannot tell where they are going or where they are in relation to each other. As the group get separated and begin to be picked off, we get some icky and jolty sequences, but it soon becomes repetitive and predictable until finally the remaining survivors make it to the control room and watch the tape of what the facility is there for. Genetic splicing, super-soldiers, mad scientist, blah blah blah.

The script is kind of what you expect at this end of the budget spectrum, lots of clumsy exposition and clich├ęd one-liners. The acting, as mentioned early, just about passes muster, but isn’t going to springboard any of these players into a new bracket. In the end, the handful of decent elements are unable to be enjoyed, because you cannot tell what is going on and the director and editor (Rafael Eisenman and Joe Shugart respectively) cannot connect their set pieces coherently. The characters are too one-note for us to care what if anything befalls them and a “you never really escape” coda taken straight from Event Horizon feels frustratingly unimaginative.

If you want to watch a bit of splatter after the pub on a Friday night, I suppose you could watch this, but there are so many better options. A mess and a derivative mess at that. Underground is available on DVD and BD now.

[Rating:1.5/5]

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.