Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dead Mine Holds a Motherload of Horror: A Movie Review

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*full disclosure: an online screening of this film was provided by XLrator Media.

Director: Steven Sheil.

Cast: Miko Mizumo, Sam Hazeldine, and Joe Taslim.

Dead Mine is the first film that this film fan has seen from Indonesia. Much of this country's beautiful landscape is shown early in the film. And, director Steven Sheil (Mum & Dad) captures some of the Asian mystique of this country, too. The horror elements are also on the screen. Taking place in an old pre-World War II mine, there are things waiting below, for a team of would-be treasure-hunters. This mine is mazelike and the many settings in this feature create for some of the film's ominous mood. There is a lot to fear in this title. And because of the surprises, Dead Mine is one of the best indie horror films to come out this year.

The premise for the film is a simple one. A corporate desk jockey is in search of Japanese General Yamashita's lost fortune. Wesley Price (Les Loveday) has tracked Yamashita's gold to an abandoned mine. Here, Price brings several mercenaries and his girlfriend to find the x on the map. Price never finds his gold, but he does find a whole assortment of creatures, waiting for him in the dark. Strange experiments have occurred deep beneath the ground and several lab rats want to feast on the mine's latest visitors. The story unravels much like an action adventure in the vein of Indian Jones and a few other films.

Characters must fear the Samurai in this piece.

This horror title finds its tension through what cannot be seen. The film is often darkly lit as a mine should be. And, many of the sets involve tight tunnels and small caves. The creatures that loom in the scenes are often just outside of the camera's sight, which helps develop a sense of foreboding. On the other hand, some of the horror can be seen. One character has his eyes completely removed by some tunnel dwellers. Another character is impaled, while another falls on a grenade. The makeup in this film is effective in creating some gruesome sights, some of which are revealed late in the picture.

The sets in this production are exceptional. As well, the sets are diverse. There are laboratories filled with failed human experiments. These sets are disturbing and gloomy. The cave sets are also well dressed. There are bones in these darkened settings and stalagmites, which rise up from the floor. The sets are well designed. Most of the sets have many exits and entrances. These portals allow for the creatures to enter most spaces, just when the characters believe they have found refuge. Basically, the settings help sustain the believability of the film.

And, Dead Mine is an exceptional film because of its use of the camera. Director Sheil also keeps scenes interesting by using lots of different angles and point of views. Viewers with fears of small spaces might not like the close-ups in small tunnels. The claustrophobic feeling of these tight settings is brought to the screen, effectively. As well, the director often changes perspectives. The characters are usually recorded with medium shots. However, the creatures also show their own vision from behind doors. The creature's stalk the mine's visitors through the camera lens. Sheil also uses the camera to interact with the audience. A rifle butt to the camera puts the viewer right into one character's scene. These shooting styles enliven the visual sphere.

Dead Mine is now available on video-on-demand and horror, or thriller film fans need to have a look. This film is one of the better indie films to come out in the first half of 2013, because Dead Mine utilizes space in an effective manner. The settings create an ominous mood, while Sheil amplifies the tension by keeping some of the horror off screen, initially. Well shot, with high production value, Dead Mine is a feature that will keep you trapped below ground and in your seat, for its relatively short, but exciting runtime.

Overall: 7.75 out of 10 (another entry for "Best Indie Horror Film for 2013," believable motivations, a few surprises).

*released May 2nd on video-on-demand.

A trailer for the film can be found at the XLrator website:

Dead Mine at XLrator Media

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