A white couple builds their fortune by flipping houses on the backs of immigrants…literally! And if that sounds like a spoiler, it’s not. Beneath Us is a movie that wears its message on its sleeve…and face, and chest, and bare ass. Our immigration policy is fucked up, racism is rampant, and our infrastructure is built on the backs of immigrants. I say these things not because the movie proves these facts, but rather because it accepts these concepts as foundational truth in its allegorical deconstruction of the American dream.
How you react to the previous paragraph is likely an indicator of how you’ll react to this film. Frankly, that’s not even a criticism unless you want it to be. Beneath Us hits you over the head, repeatedly, with its message and makes no apologies for it. About as subtle as a shovel to the face, this allegory of immigrant laborers being murdered and buried under the very homes they’re building is square on the bloody nose from the opening shot to the closing monologue. The story serves the message at every turn, to the point of sheer frustration for anyone interested only in a narrative.
However, anyone looking past the allegorical nature of the story will find a delightfully villainous performance from Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) tormenting an array victims, including Rigo Sanchez (Queen of the South), Josue Aguirre (Incarnate), and Roberto Sanchez (2 Fast 2 Furious). Beneath Us marks Max Pachman’s feature-length debut, and the overall impression leaves me feeling optimistic about his next project. While the story is admittedly ‘one-note,’ Pachman plays that note confidently and doesn’t apologize. The characters feel relatable, even if their decisions do not.
In addition, Pachman packs in a handful of visceral kills and torture thanks to an experienced makeup effects team including Luis Garcia (Pirates of the Caribbean), Jamie Hess (Triple Frontier, Bright), and Yvette Mikkelson, and visual effects supervisor Ryan Alan Wood (Boo!). A little more attention to detail in continuity and editing would have gone a long way toward enhancing suspension of disbelief, but overall it’s a very promising effort.
Beneath Us will debut in select theaters on March 6, 2020.