Movie Review for Dead Mine

Marring Horror

Dead Mine

Action, Horror | R-13 | 1 hr 30 min
Main Cast
Ario Bayu
Dead Mine shares a couple of similarities with another of this week's releases, Chernobyl Diaries. They both use the conceit of something terrible that happened in human history as a jumping off point for a generic horror tale that has interchangeable characters bring picked off by monsters. It's kind of a disheartening trend that I hope doesn't continue. Regardless, the film's real flaws lie in its lazy storytelling and general lack of imagination.

A small team of soldiers accompany a group of foreigners deep into the jungles of an Indonesian island. It turns out that the foreigners are treasure hunters, searching for a long lost Japanese bunker that could hold the missing Yamashita gold. The group is ambushed just outside the entrance of the bunker, and they get trapped inside. They venture deeper into the complex, searching for another way out. They discover something else entirely: a connection to the darkest corners of Japanese history.

The plot alludes to real human atrocities committed in the Pacific theater of World War II. It's certainly a subject worth discussing, but the horror movie doesn't really feel like the right medium for it. Putting that aside, the movie isn't very good anyway. The characters are entirely too thin, with at least half of them existing purely as monster fodder. The movie adheres closely to the generic horror model, making it all just a process of basic elimination.

It also doesn't help that the foes don't really seem all that formidable. The movie actually wavers in their depiction: some can be taken down with a single bullet, while others can keep on trucking. Some can rip people to shreds, while others can only aimlessly grapple with victims. The monsters seem to have been designed for narrative convenience rather than actual terror, and this is always a major stumbling block for any horror picture.

Whatever threat the monsters actually present is more of a function of the film's confusing geography. Some of these scenes are cut together really strangely, the camera cutting away to a disconnected angle, presenting a threat that comes out of nowhere. There's no tension in any of it, no sense of atmosphere to build up to a scare. The acting is mostly nondescript. Sam Hazeldine gets the film's few dramatic speeches, and he quickly brings the to a B-movie level. Miki Mizuno seems to have some spark, but she's mostly stuck interpreting.

Dead Mine ends abruptly, the story just having nowhere to go. This happens often with films like these. The ideas tend to stop at the origin of the monsters, the convoluted back story that's supposed to make them distinct from every other horror movie threat. Past that, it just goes through the motions of a narrative, setting up characters to die one by one, with nobody really caring. And so the film ends having said nothing, having left no lingering terror, marring the good name of horror a little more.

My Rating:



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