Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: It Came from Below owes a hell of a debt to the mother of all of cave-monster filmmaking, 2005 masterpiece The Descent. Though it never manages to reach the dizzying heights of that film, It Came from Below is a strong feature with jarring scares propelled by the grip of claustrophobic tension. A classic creature feature, shrouding the monsters in darkness and only revealing them when absolutely necessary, was the exact correct approach to take with this impressive alien flick.

After their father dies following an unfortunate cave expedition, siblings Jessie (Megan Purvis) and Sam (Jake Watkins) set out to prove the existence of everything he documented in his journals. He claimed that cave-dwelling aliens attacked him and ate his companion alive like savages. Jessie plots out their course in the wake of the tragedy, with Sam annoyingly bringing along his girlfriend, Joanna (Georgie Banks), and their pal, Marty (Tom Taplin). Their ultimate goal is to capture footage of the creature to prove that Jessie’s father was not as loony as everyone assumed—and to make some money off their potential discovery. Of course, this being a horror film and all, their task is easier said than done. It turns out these creatures are not exactly about to smile and wave to the camera…

One could easily boil It Came from Below down to a tale of aliens underground, but it tries hard to overcome the tropes and do something different. For the most part, I think it is quite successful in achieving that. Structurally and even thematically, the film is very similar to The Descent, down to the emphasis on character drama. The horror is bizarre and intense. Wisely cranking up the claustrophobia by shrouding our characters in shadow, It Came from Below occasionally utilizes an eerie found footage style.

Scenes inside the cave are creepy and atmospheric, setting the stage well before we see any sign of an onscreen creature. Because we actually care about these characters (or, at least the siblings), the horrors of It Came from Below are far more tangible. It must be said though that these characters make some extravagantly moronic decisions that left me yelling at my television screen. Suspension of disbelief is necessary, mainly when approaching the latter half of this story. If you still find yourself pining for The Descent Part III, then It Came from Below may just scratch that cave-monster itch.

It Came from Below screened at the 2021 Popcorn Frights Film Festival.

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