Fantastic Fest – Under the Mountain

Under the Mountain” is apparently a famous story in New Zealand – first a book written by Maurice Gee in the 1950s, then a NZ TV series in the 1980s, and now a movie.  It’s the second outing from Jonathan King, who did the also New Zealand based horror comedy “Black Sheep” (about sheep that start eating people).

The movie is targeted at the tween market – not too young children, as I bet my seven year old would about crap her drawers if she watched this movie, but it’s not super horrifying for us jaded adults.  “More fodder for the Twilight crowd,” I’d say (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  It can be compared somewhat to Escape to Witch Mountain, but darker and scarier.

I thought the movie was well done.  Sam Neill as the crazy homeless guy slash friendly alien was fun and the boy and girl cast as the twins did a decent if not awe-inspiring job.

The plot is simple – a pair of twins, Theo and Rachel, go to live with their aunt and uncle in Auckland when their mother dies.  The twins, a boy and a girl, have a light psychic bond but the boy has completely shut himself off from it since the death.  In short order they determine that the weirdos living across the lake in a decrepit house mean to kill them and they find a crazy homeless guy who can help – he explains that the bad guys (the “Wilberforces”) are bad Lovecraftian aliens who have seven huge “Gargantua,” alien war monsters, in stasis under the seven volcanoes in the area.  Homeless guy is a good fire alien who needs twins with a psychic bond to use two “fire stones” and, by tossing them into one of the volcanoes, thwart the evil aliens forever (it’s unclear how or why this does that, but roll with it).  Soon they, their cousin Ricky, and his main squeeze Clementine are racing back and forth across the area trying to not get tentacle-probed by the shape-changing Wilberforces while  Theo tries to get his act together enough to trust his twin and unleash the POOOOOOWER!!!!

I found it enjoyable, though tame for me the famed zombie hunter.  But I think it will do well; it’s about 2000% better than the utterly shit recent remake of Escape From Witch Mountain with that wrestler, and that made decent bank.  I hope a tweeney horror movie that isn’t total tripe might do even better.

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