UNDERGROUND (2023) Review by Steve Kirkham

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UNDERGROUND (2023)

3 stars
Miracle Media. Digital. 26th February

Set in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, the film starts with a police officer reporting on the case of missing girls. The story then goes back in time to introduce the girls who are lost: Ella (Maaike Tol), Claire (Nadia Dawber), Riley (Charlotte Dawn Potter, who co-wrote the script – such that it is – with director Lars Jannsen), Jessica (Caitlyn Barber) and Ziggy (Sappire Brewer-Merchant)… though to be honest they are all pretty interchangeable and annoying!

Ella is getting married and one of the girls decides to document the whole thing, including the bachelorette night out, with a video camera – thereby trying to establish a reason why we must endure the typical shakycam of the found footage genre.

We then spend half an hour with the girls, as there is some attempt to establish their various personalities – but honestly, by the end you are unlikely to care! They get dressed up in costumes (I guess to give us some chance of telling one from the other), go out and get pissed and then misbehave in the back of a cab, with one of them throwing up – meaning they are chucked out in the middle of nowhere. Much of the dialogue here feels improvised.

There is talk of the Nazi hospital and tunnels on the island – which is an actual location… check Wikipedia! Wouldn’t you know it, Ziggy manages to fall down a hole, which drops her injured into to one those tunnels. The other ladies have to go into the creepy and dark environs of the abandoned World War II relic to rescue her and, in a shocking turn of events (he said sarcastically), find themselves trapped down there.

What follows is much wandering about lit and unlit subterranean passages and rooms with lots of prattling and arguing amongst each other. Odd sounds are heard. Lights flicker. Ooh, scary!

Then one of them goes missing – cue more meandering around poorly lit concrete corridors and lots more yapping.

Apart from a couple of scenes that try to make things creepy – including a blink and you’ll miss it appearance of an apparition – this fails to generate any tension or atmosphere. There is clearly the possibility of building an effective horror in the real location of the underground hospital but this fails to capitalise on this. It also begs the question that so many (most?) found footage films throw up – why the hell do they keep shooting footage?

The production may well have worked better as a straight narrative, with tighter editing and a stronger, more focussed script – as it is, it is ultimately just exasperating and tiresome.

Steve Kirkham