|DVD 20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending
Director: Marc Clebanoff
Writers: Frank Krueger
Stars: Danny Trejo, Kinga Philipps, Frank Krueger
Below the streets of New York is a dark and dangerous world hidden in the shadows of abandoned subway tunnels and miles of forgotten infrastructure. When a young documentary filmmaker goes into these tunnels to uncover the unseen stories of the people living below our feet, she finds out that there is more to be afraid of than the dark. A mysterious figure, living beyond the reach of the law, has declared war on the outside world that threatens to tear apart the fragile underground society living in the tunnels and maybe even the city above it. Written by Frank Krueger
Release Date: 7 July 2014 (UK)
You can see that a lot of people were up for trying to make a good movie together, the problem is that they didn't bother to follow through. The whole feeling of this movie is off, there is the "darkness" and these hoods in the tunnels under the streets of NYC and somehow they can move in strange ways through the darkness and they are all so ninja quiet that they can sneak up on anybody. Danny Trejo is wasted in this movie, even though they are relying way too much on his voice, and face to carry the whole thing, so that they use him in nearly every second scene, it still isn't enough though. All of the cast seems like they want to make a good movie, even if they are mostly way over the top, and very boring to watch. One problem with the whole cast being the production team as well. The tunnels are pathetic, and Central is even worse, from the large man standing over a fire still shivering with no wind, to the girl with her shiny new guitar or the dumbsy twins who just can't wait to step over each other's lines. There is no end to the bad in this movie I did not Enjoy it at all, and to anyone thinking that they just have to watch every Danny Trejo movie, I would actually think even he will forgive you for skipping this heap. After all in this movie he is God, or so he says.
The plot: A naive reporter finds a bigger story than she was expecting when she visits a underground homeless camp in the abandoned subway tunnels of New York City.
This is a very low budget film. Unfortunately, it's not one of those inventive independent films that makes up for its lack of budget with bold, new ideas and a maverick spirit. Instead, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a direct-to-video Danny Trejo film: a cool villain, a weak story, and a bit of violence. For some people, that will surely be enough to carry the entire film, but if you're not a Trejo fanatic, you can probably skip this one.
The biggest problem is that the homeless people generally don't look very homeless. I'm not saying they have to smell like urine and mumble incoherently, but these people are way too pretty and healthy for me believe that they've actually suffered. One of them has what looks like a brand new guitar. I'm not even sure that I could afford that guitar. You don't have to go all method and make the actors live in a homeless community for a week, but more realism wouldn't have hurt.
Some of the characters were pretty cool. Of course, I liked Danny Trejo, and, of course, he played a badass villain. He was sort of interesting: part ubermensch, part cult leader, and part Occupy Wall Street protester. I'm not sure how well all those things mix, especially when he'd segue from discussing the plight of the homeless to some Nietzsche-inspired rant about how the weak deserve their plight. Still, for Trejo fanatics, it's enough to make the film watchable, and he delivers it with his trademark hostility and danger. As soon as he enters, it's easy to believe that he's the most dangerous man in any room.
The rest of the characters weren't so interesting. Most of them were underwritten and depended on cultural archetypes to give them weight: the crazy homeless guy, the burnt-out ex-cop, the pushy reporter, etc. As long as you don't mind a film full of stock characters that never really transcend their stereotypes, it's fairly survivable. A few of them are well-spoken and even fairly well acted (I liked the crazy homeless guy), but most of the dialogue ends up being clichés, especially after the midpoint. Prior to that point, it seemed like they might be verging on something interesting or insightful, but then they just wander into hack screen writing 101 and never leave.
The plot is fairly traditional, and it holds no real surprises. It's the same film that you've seen time and time again, only this time its set underground. If you just want to see Danny Trejo act like a badass, this is a fair choice. If you want more than that, I'd say skip it. I like films about underground societies, but this one really didn't work very well. For an artsy, quirky take on the subject, try Kontroll, an amazing Hungarian film. For a more fantasy-based take, try Nail Gaiman's Neverwhere. I'm not a huge fan of Gaiman, but even the worst of his work is better than this.
Sorry but this movie does not work for we.
Danny Trejo being on the cover was enough for me to watch the film, but too bad his stardom did nothing to make the film better. I've seen him save his fair share of B-movies just by appearing on screen for a few minutes and being bad ass, but this movie is not it.
I did like the concept of a filmmaker documenting the people living in New York City's subway system, with one of them played by Trejo, seeing himself as a messenger of God who slays the wicked, and by wicked I mean the privileged Wall Street types, so obviously he's able to find a group of people willing to help him rid the city of this vermin.
The film making is very lackluster, enough so that the found footage documentary style the film is doing seems so played out. You know the film is cheap just by the fact that they can't get Trejo to even comment to a half hour worth of footage. Not really good when he's your main villain and the most interesting out of his army.
Danny's appearance is truly just a few minutes and it's not worth the trouble to see it just for that. I've seen him make a cameo like apprentice in far better B-movies like, In the Blood, which is worth seeing, so see that.
Naive documentary film maker Chelsea goes into the underground of NYC to investigate the homeless people living in abandoned subway tunnels. She encounters senile former military, a strange artist, teen run aways, crazed former drug addicts, a disgraced ex-cop (Jake), and a self- righteous gang (the Chosen) of violent cretins led by Angel.
Chelsea interviews a few of the cops (whose leaders want some action against the Chosen), Angel himself, the artist, two teen runaways, and Jake. The Chosen have it out for Jake and the teens.
So, what happens in the inevitable show down?
Cinematography: 7/10 Usually clear enough.
Sound: 3/10 Bad leveling. The music played during intervals often seemed irrelevant.
Acting: 3/10 Danny Trejo showed his usual screen presence. Louis Mandylor was competent with the few lines he was given. The rest, not so good.
Screenplay: 1/10 Were there any points to this film? Not that I saw. Also, the clothes worn were too clean, the people looked way too clean and too healthy. How is it that Jake has a new, spotless bottle of expensive looking booze? How does he have brand new candles in perfectly clean holders? One of the women in the tunnels has a new looking guitar; what are the chances that would not be stolen? The preaching (from Angel and from the group who hang with the artist) seemed out of place, as did the spouting of statistics.