Film Review: The Devil Below

STUDIO: Vertical Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Bradley Parker | CAST: Will Patton, Adan Canto, Jonathan Sadowski, Alicia Sanz, Nathan Phillips
RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2021
SPECS: NR | 98 min. | Horror thriller

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

There are creatures in The Devil Below. Icky, gnarly, multi-fanged, slithery, flesh-chomping creatures. They are a little bit of Alien crossed with some of Tremors with a splash of Time Machine Morlock thrown in for good measure.

The critters inhabit an underground mine that may now be an actual gateway to hell. It’s steamy and dark and located near an abandoned Appalachian town, a mining community at one time. Arianne (Alicia Sanz, Billionaire Boys Club), daughter of a bounty hunter, leads an expedition of young scientists headed by Darren (Adan Canto, X-Men: Days of Future Past) doing research on the area. After one of their own is suddenly sucked into an underground abyss, the rest of the group heads down to try to find him. Along the way, they encounter an overseer of the area (the always-welcome Will Patton of Minari) who warns of the danger that lie ahead.

In The Devil Below, directed by visual effects specialist Bradley Parker (Chernobyl Diaries), we learn the subterranean species “colonize like ants,” but not a whole lot more. There’s actually some similarity between them and the insect-like Selenites from 1964’s Ray Harryhausen-powered First Men in the Moon. But we want to know more—and we never do.

The set-up of The Devil Below has potential. There’s an appropriately eerie feel throughout, some jump scares and a lot of effectively shivery and grating creature sounds. Unfortunately, the characters are paper-thin–we have trouble distinguishing them from one another let alone caring what happens to them along the way—and the whole gateway to the underworld idea is never satisfactorily explored. Spanish actress Alicia Sanz shows grit as the tough female guide, but even her character’s motives are sketchy and she remains a cipher.

She’s no Ripley, although she could have been a contender.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.