Shookum Hills was a small mining town in the Appalachian countryside. It was abandoned by all of its inhabitants in the late ’60s due to mysterious fires in the mines releasing toxic gas. No one knows how the fires started, but scholar, Darren (Adan Canto) and his team of theorists plan to find out. They hire wilderness expert, Arianne, played by Alicia Sanz, to guide them toward this hidden town in the hills and ensure their safety as they investigate. As they get closer to the town, it’s apparent that the area locals will do almost anything to keep them out. At least, this is the case in THE DEVIL BELOW.
THE DEVIL BELOW, written by Eric Scherbarth and Stefan Jaworski and directed by Bradley Parker, opens on a father (Will Patton) and son, leaving the mines at Shookum Hills sometime in the ’60s. The son is snatched and dragged away with such speed, it can’t have been anything human that took him. The father is knocked unconscious and the viewer is left unsure as to whether or not he survived the attack. This scene really set the mood for the entire film. Who or what was behind the attack? As we learn about how the town was abandoned soon after and the theories behind the fires in the mine, we immediately start to form our own ideas.
Alicia Sanz did an amazing job as Arianne, a strong female character who risks her own safety to protect the team of scholars who hired her. The townsfolk who want to keep these outsiders away from the abandoned town were kind of giving me Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes at the beginning but soon the reason for their hostility is made known. Every single actor in this film did a fabulous job, even those who had very little screen time.
The effects, however, left something to be desired. They weren’t awful, but they could have been better. For example, there is a big scene in the second half of the film involving a grenade and, as I watched in suspense for the huge explosion that was bound to take place, I was rewarded with what felt like a burp after a big gulp of club soda. Little details like that can take away from the overall impact of the film.
All and all, THE DEVIL BELOW was a solid film, with a lot of creepy, claustrophobic moments, and very much worth the watch.
THE DEVIL BELOW will be available in select theaters, Video On Demand, and on Digital on March 5, 2021.
Disclaimer/Editor’s Note: Nightmarish Conjurings doesn’t endorse seeing movies in theaters at this time due to the pandemic. Please consider VOD and/or Drive-In options and, if you go to the theater, please be safe.