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Monday, July 31, 2017

MAN UNDERGROUND -- Movie Review by Porfle

MAN UNDERGROUND (2016) is about how hard it can be for one man to get the truth out to the people when nobody wants to hear it or believe it.  Especially when shadowy forces in the hush-hush inner government would rather such truth remain secret despite the obsessive efforts of one lone conspiracy theorist (i.e. "nut") to shine a light on it.

Unkempt, eccentric loner Willem Koda (George Basil) is the "nut" in question, or at least he seems like one to the waitresses at the diner in rural Middle America where he eats the same thing every day. 

One of them, Flossie Ferguson (Pamela Fila), takes a shine to him and, being an aspiring actress, agrees to appear in an autobiographical shot-on-video film Willem has decided to make with his goodnaturedly nerdy pal Todd Muckle (Andy Rocco) in order to tell Willem's story to the public more effectively than with the occasional sparsely-attended speech or social media video.

So far, the whole thing seems to play like an ultra-dry deadpan comedy, especially when we start to see the three of them filming Willem's comically overdramatized account of his past trauma under the most amateur of conditions. 

The events that made him the man he is today, we find, involve his working as a geologist for the government until having a terrifying close encounter of the worst kind after uncovering a sealed underground vault. 

We know of Willem's horrific past experience, resulting in a painful breakup with his wife, solely through these humorously-staged, laughable recreations (there are no dramatic flashbacks), and thus have no way of knowing whether he's telling the truth or simply tragically delusional.

Still, the smartly-written script of MAN UNDERGROUND by co-directors Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine manages to come up with some spooky clues here and there which, at times, have us hanging on this pathetic, socially-malajusted paranoiac's unsettling nocturnal encounters as though we're watching a low-key political thriller or an episode of "The X-Files."

All of this potential background intrigue, meanwhile, is presented within the context of three societal misfits (and Flossie's annoying boyfriend Francis, played with smooth-nerd aplomb by Felix Hagen) making a glorified home movie while stumbling through their own awkward relationship problems--most of which stem from Willem's mercurial, distrustful nature--as deadpan humor gives way more and more to increasingly absorbing human drama. 

The film's climax, in fact, is surprisingly dramatic, and by this time the writer-directors have managed to make these borderline-farcical characters more than sufficiently well-rounded enough for us to care about them.  More than that, they're quite thoroughly sympathetic and likable, even realistic in their own way, which is due in no small part to some wonderfully deft performances by the leads. 

MAN UNDERGROUND is unlike any "conspiracy theory" story I've seen, mixing subtle humor and serious drama the way real life often does, with the same variances in tone and lack of clear-cut resolution, and with the same kind of unsettling yet somehow appealing unpredictability.   

Tech Specs
Runtime: 93 mins.
Format: 1:85 Flat
Sound: Dolby 2.0
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Sci-Fi/Horror/Comedy


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