Probably best for the hard-core action/horror fan.

Before reading the rest of my review, please be advised that I am not a huge fan of action or horror films.  Because of that, you might find that you are willing to cut this film a bit more slack than I did.  It’s just a type of film I rarely watch and this one did nothing to change my opinion of this style of movie.

The film stars two people—the writer of the script who also stars as the hero (Frank Kruger) and the ubiquitous Danny Trejo.  I say ubiquitous because the guy seems to be in dozens of films now in development and Hollywood seems to adore his rugged and crazy look.  In his previous life, Trejo was an incredibly bad man—and spent a lot of years in prison.  After cleaning his life up, he’s created a real niche for himself playing crazies and seriously bad characters.  His appearance in 20 Feet Below: The Darkness Descending is certainly no exception and he is quite menacing

20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending
Directed by
Marc Clebanoff
Cast
Danny Trejo, Kinga Philipps, Frank Krueger
Release Date
18 March 2014
Martin’s Grade: D+

This picture takes place in the underground portion of New York City.  Apparently there is a huge forgotten subculture living there.  Some of these are the lost or displaced—decent folks but ones who live life on the margins.  However, there also is a growing cult-like army forming led by the oddly named ‘Angel’ (Trejo).  Although you never actually see an army (just a half dozen or so of his sickies), he has magnetic control over a murder cult who plan on starting some sort of war on the rest of the world.  Again, however, you never see more than a handful of his people….so you are never sure if he’s 100% delusional or if the filmmakers simply couldn’t afford more extras (it IS a very low budget film).


Into this awful world comes a nosy woman who wants to film a documentary (Kinga Philipps) and an ex-cop, Frank, who’s dropped out of society and hangs out in this dark world.  The woman, Chelsea, is an underwritten character.  While Philipps is lovely and seemed a decent actress, much of the film she just seems there to be a victim.  I wish she’d been written smarter and/or stronger.  As for Frank, he’s a macho hero-type—a guy who, inexplicably, refuses help (even when it’s 100% illogical to do so) and who is determined to take on Angel and his nutty followers.

The film’s biggest strength is its sense of dread and foreboding.  While it clearly was filmed on sets and not in sewers or subways most of the time AND features amazingly clean characters, it gets the mood right.  But the characters are too often one-dimensional and the final showdown amazingly anti-climactic.  Not a terrible film but a film which leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the characters, their motivations and the dialog.

Review by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer