Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Directed by Jonathan King

Sophie McBride - Rachel
Tom Cameron - Theo
Sam Neill - Mr. Jones

     Teenage twins Rachel and Theo discover the Wilberforces, ancient shape-shifting aliens that live under a ring of extinct volcanoes in Auckland, New Zealand. Now the siblings must revive their special shared powers to destroy the evil creatures before something greater is unleashed.


     To start out I should say that I love Mythos stories. For those that don't know what that is, it's basically stories centered around superficial elements from H.P. Lovecraft's "Arkham cycle". Or to put it more simple, it's about creatures that can't be explained coming to take over the planet from outer dimensions, or as some writers put it, to reclaim Earth which was theirs to begin with. I have to be blunt, I've seen only a few true good "Mythos" type movies and most were from John Carpenter and the best being a silent film made be the Lovecraft Historical Society. Then there are the middle of the road type movies that are fun to watch, but you keep noticing small things throughout. Under The Mountain is one of those type movies. 

     As far as the story goes for the movie it does a decent job of doing what it does but it just doesn't get to a truly full movie. It just feels as if there is something missing. You feel sorry for the sister and you think that the brother is a douche throughout most of the movie which is what it sets out to do. My problem with this movie isn't that, it's how the siblings came to have this power and how it's supposed to be dangerous for the Wilberforces and why. The movie just doesn't explain it. Is it pasted down through genes or is it just a quirk. And why is it only redheads, and twins at that, that have the power. I like movies that leave things up to the viewer to discuss or think about, but this is just one bit too much. One thing I do like about the story though is that it doesn't explain where the Wilberforces,  Fireraiser, and the big nasties are from except from space and destroyed worlds.  I will say also that the movie moves at a decent pace as well and that I think is thanks to the script more than anything else but the movie does get a bit scene jumpy at the very start though for about the first quarter of the movie, but then it slows down after. This has more to do with that the movie is trying to establish it's places and faces more than anything else. I should note that the score of the movie is truly well done as during times I was paying more attention to the music than what was being said in the movie. More at the beginning of the movie than later on though.

     Sam Neill is probably one of my more favorite character actor in movies, especially horror movies, but in this one he just doesn't seem like he's giving his all in parts of it. He does a decent job, but it just seems like there was something missing that has been there in other performances. Now I will admit he does do good in some scenes, but in others it just isn't there. A good example of this is when he's trying to be all mystic master with the twins after the first Wilberforce attack. It just kinda falls flat and goes nowhere. Sorry Neill, better luck next time. As for the acting of the siblings, they actually do a good job considering that this was both McBride's and Cameron's first movie. While Cameron does a great job of acting like a pissed off douche at the world for most of the movie, it does get a bit tiring, but then again he is playing a teenager. Now McBride I have to say is the true star of film as she doesn't really oversell anything, but at the same time she doesn't try to phone it in either which is nice to see as most of the story truly centers around her more than her brother in the movie. One of the more fun scenes in the movie is when she's attacked for the first time and is being chased around a empty house. She doesn't go all scream queen, even though she does scream, but it just seems like she's in more control than most actresses would be. I'm actually curious to see what she'll do next cause I do believe she can go far.

     The movie wasn't bad per say, but it wasn't great either. I really had high hopes for the movie but I ended up being disappointed more than anything else. With Jonathan King of Black Sheep fame directing and  Weta doing the special effects you would think that this movie could do no wrong. I was wrong. It was one of those movies that you watch and just kinda lose track of over time. It's a good movie for kids that are getting into horror movies I can say with ease though, as it does have some scenes that would be tense for younger viewers. If one thing sticks out more than anything else in the movie it is the Weta Workshop designed Wilberforces. Now they were fun to watch, as well as the actors that played them. But even then, only when they were practical effects and not CG'd in as the effects, as they were, to me, below what Weta can do and has done for lesser movies. Maybe I'll try to find the book the movie was based on, as I'm sure I'll probably have a lot more fun with it.

     Mr. Jones multi-punctured face. 

   To tell the truth, nothing really stuck out to me that much. Oh well.

     The movie is based on the New Zealand novel Under The Mountain by Maurice Gee.

     The movie is a remake of the New Zealand 8 part mini-series of the same name from 1981.

     The original mini-series ran on Nickelodeon in the early 1980s when the network was starting out.  

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