The Devil Below — Hamstrung by Low Budget

If only they had a bigger budget. source.

I love a good ‘mysterious monster in strange land’ movie. My first experience was decades ago with the classic Alien from Ridley Scott. Strange planet, mysterious signal, space astronauts. Prometheus was essentially a inferior remake of Alien.

For the first few minutes, I was captivated by this movie.

There is a decent amount of world building. Characters are alright. There are fun moments. However, it’s clear that, the director, is doing his best. So are the actors, the camera guy and everybody. Unfortunately, everybody involved is let down by a low budget. I felt bad for the crew.

Stock Characters

stock strong female character. source

The thing about movies like these, is thestrong adherence to formula, including stock characters.

You have the strong and young female character. She has a tight butt and push up bra, and the camera will spend a lot of time focusing on that. When the movie ends, she will also be the sole survivor. There is no way this character will die.

You have the reasonable logical man of science. You have the god believing guy. You have the funny guy who says inappropriate things about women, science and god. He will be the first to die, of course. You will inevitably have the ‘geeky’ computer or electronics guy who wont take any sides. He’s just there, to ask questions and plot points and move the story along.

Lastly, you have the local villagers who are trying to contain the monster. At first, they will come across as rude and villainous. Later, it’s revealed that they are actually the good guys.

All this is there in this movie too. I knew these characters will be there even before the movie started. It’s the genre definition. Like when you watch a James Bond movie. You know there will be some chase sequences, egoistic villains, one huge henchman or henchwoman, some hot chicks for Bond to bed, explosions and plans to destroy the world.

Thrown in some cool gadgets and you now have some 20 to 30 James Bond movies.

As audience, we get used to this formula, and that’s okay. This movie does a good job with these characters. The low budget of the movie means, the production had to cut corners. They got whatever actors they could get, and wrote whatever dialogue they could. None of them can act but they try their best.

Still I appreciate the effort behind this movie.

Laughable Special Effects

Cinematography and Lighting in the movie is pretty good. source

It became apparent that the movie is very tight on budget, early on. I sort of warmed up to the low quality of acting and dialogues. Began to enjoy the movie.

Then, finally, they revealed the monsters. In this one particular scene, these devil monsters are chasing these stock characters. It’s supposed to be scary. But, then the camera changes to a low angle shot of the monster running. I started laughing. I am laughing right now, thinking of the scened. I laughed for a good two minutes until there were tears in my eyes.

The monsters are clearly stuntmen in some lame rubber mask. It’s so hilarious. They dont have the budget. This is where, i wish the director was smarter. When it comes to monsters, you can do two things.

  1. Do it like Pacific Rim or Kong: Skull Island. Show the huge monsters, but, with proper effects. This only works if you have the budget to justify it.
  2. Do it like Jaws. Dont show the monster at all. ‘Nothing’ is always Scarier. Let the audience imagination fill up the blanks.

I wish the director had acknowledge the budget problem and went with option 2.

Final Note

the actors do what they can. source

Until the point where I saw the hilarously ridiculous running monster scene, I was really engaged by this movie. It’s very well done. After that silly running sequence, It became a laugh riot for me till the credits rolled.

Ultimately, I had fun. God, I am still laughing thinking about that silly running thing. I have got to watch that scene again.

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