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Underbelly - R-Squared Films Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Ray Casta   
Friday, 07 January 2011

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Directed by: Matt A. Cade
Written by: Matt A. Cade
Produced by: Mark Reeb, Matt A. Cade
Cinematography by: Skye Borgman
Music by: Fritz Beer
Cast: Mark Reeb, Fritz Beer, John Mense
Year: 2007
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 30 min

Distributor: R-Squared Films
Official Website: Underbelly

Have you ever watched a movie that is so strange, you have no idea what it's about?  You hope everything will make sense as you keep watching it, but part of you doesn't really care.  Well, Matt A. Cade's "Underbelly" is kind of like that.  Watching the trailer, I was not sure what I was getting into.  The tagline reads: "One man's descent into the unknown evils of our world."  That barely describes the movie, which plays like a wicked cross between "Twin Peaks" and "The Ring."

The film opens to a young woman, Sarah driving home to see her parents along a creepy, deserted stretch of highway.  She is talking on the phone with her friend.  Her friend tells her a story she heard about a man who impersonated a police officer, pulled over a woman, raped her and left her for dead.  This story, of course freaks Sarah out.  She calls the State Troopers to verify it really is a police officer.  She pulls over and then the operator informs her it is not a police officer.  She tries to drive off, but her car simply will not move.  She gazes ahead, and she sees something.  Something so terrifying, she screams at the top of her lungs.  What she sees is unknown to us.  All we can see is her face, and it quickly turns blue from a strobing light.

Next, we meet author Henry Rose (Mark Reeb) and his pregnant wife, Jill (Jennifer Harlow) driving on the same Texas highway during a nice afternoon.  They stop along the side of the road.  Henry gets something out the backseat and when he turns around, his wife vanishes without a trace.  Literally.  Where did she go?  It is a mystery.  He ventures to the local town bar, a backwoods dive.  He runs into the "Haynes" crew: Eugene (Joe Abercrombie), Sweet Lily (Felicia Bianca Lopez), Toby (Fritz Beer) and Terry (John Mense).  He gets into an altercation with the crew, but luckily gets away from them and goes about his business.

This is the set-up to "Underbelly."  If the movie doesn't sound strange yet, it gets stranger as it goes along.  Watching it, I had no idea where it was going to go.  Afterwards, I was trying to figure out "where" it went.  The plot is difficult to decipher.  We are kept in the dark about what that strange "blue light" is, and the movie reveals more mysteries as it progresses.  We expect the plot to mainly focus on the disappearance, but the story goes elsewhere.  It purposely meanders.  The "alternate" story involves the Haynes crew.  We witness them victimize the occupants of a local store.  Sweet Lily takes the store owner into the bathroom, orders him to strip and terrorizes him.  Like earlier in the film, she sees a blue light and then disappears.  What the fuck?

Yes, there is a lot of strange shit going on in "Underbelly."  And I didn't even mention the fact the Haynes crew routinely break out in song and dance.  These moments are completely random, and come out of nowhere.  It's like a musical on crack.  Although the scenes are absurd and seemingly pointless, they are pretty damn funny.  The performances are manic and off kilter, very much like the film itself.  The film's dialogue is sometimes laughable with hokey quips like "F you, you f'ing fuck" and "Grab your umbrellas, boys - daddy just had a brainstorm!"  Some of the dialogue is funny, though.  The Henry character calls for the police to report his car has been stolen.  The operator's unexpected response: "Ain't that a bitch?"  Classic stuff, right there.  To boot, there's a lot of sinister atmosphere that is vibrantly captured and the movie has a striking sound design.

For a low-budget indie that was shot in the course of 11 days, "Underbelly" is as ambitious as it is bizarre.  The horror element is there, but it's not particularly heavy.  Although the movie has its own brand of creepiness, the mystery aspect towers over the "horror," and this is where the ambiguity makes "Underbelly" feel a bit too esoteric for its own good.  Matt A. Cade knows his world inside out.  He knows why everything is happening.  He knows what the audience does not, and he loves to play with his audience.  He has a lot of cool ideas that play out for us, but the finished product feels undeveloped.  It's flawed in the pacing department, too.  There are stretches where nothing happens, that made me feel the length should've been trimmed a bit.  Yes, the movie is far from perfect.  But if you dig a movie that can effectively fuck with your head throughout, "Underbelly" is an experiment into the surreal that will satisfy your morbid curiosity until its macabre conclusion.

Available through R-Squared films, the "Underbelly" DVD features some trailers, a deleted scene, a gag reel and a featurette of interviews from the cast and crew.


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 Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Widescreen
 Region: NTSC 0
 Audio: English 5.1

 - Cast and crew interviews
 - Deleted scene
 - Gag reel
 - Trailers for coming attractions

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