The story begins with Rachel (Lauren Mae Shafer) — at least that’s her name as provided in the credits — being attacked by a burly man (David G.B. Brown) who strangles her, forces a drug down her throat and puts her in a wet suit. Then he drags her outside a cabin to a frozen lake, where he outfits her with an almost empty oxygen tank and shoves her underwater. The idea, apparently, is to make her death look like an accident.
As the desperate woman struggles to survive, flashbacks reveal that her attacker is her husband, with whom she has a child, and that being a serial killer was apparently one of his aspects that she somehow missed in their relationship. The only other significant character figuring in these scenes is Rachel’s mother; she’s played by genre veteran Veronica Cartwright (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), who delivers the film’s best performance.
Most of the action depicts Rachel struggling to breathe in the small area between the ice-cold water and the frozen surface, having to retreat underwater every time her assailant spots her and prevents her from escaping. But the proceedings are not nearly as suspenseful as one would imagine, proving dully repetitive despite the brief 75-minute running time that includes lengthy credits. Even at that, the film feels padded, with the director stretching out the thin storyline with numbingly extraneous slow motion.
The Dark Below
Directed by: Douglas Schulze
Starring: Lauren Mae Shafer, David G.B. Brown, Veronica Cartwright, Seraphina Anne Zorn, Tiffany Burns, Zachary Levine
Screenplay by: Douglas Schulze, Jonathan D’Ambrosio
Production Design by: Jonathan D’Ambrosio
Cinematography by: Robert Skates
Film Editing by: Jonathan D’Ambrosio
Costume Design by: Cheryl Marie Freeman
Art Direction by: Jonathan D’Ambrosio, Jake Ruth
Music by: David Bateman
Distributed by: Parade Deck Films
Release Date: March 10, 2017