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From its laughably explicit title to its generic portrayal of teens in peril, Abandoned Mine represents a familiar mediocre entry in the horror genre. This tale of five small-town friends who decide to spend Halloween night in, yes, an abandoned mine, is receiving a limited theatrical engagement, but should find whatever small audience it attracts on VOD thanks to the presence of Spy Kids star Alexa Vega.
Wearing helmets outfitted with lights and, as is so often the case in horror films these days, miniature cameras that provide wholly unnecessary POV footage, the intrepid group descends into the legendarily haunted Jarvis Mine, where a century ago a miner and his daughters were buried alive under mysterious circumstances. Needless to say, it isn’t long before things begin to go bump in the night.
The group — consisting of jock Brad (Reiley McClendon), his girlfriend Sharon (Vega), his ex-girfriend Laurie (Saige Thompson), her Indian friend Ethan (Charan Prabhakar) and claustrophobic big lug Jimmy (Adam Hendershott) — soon experience a variety of chilling experiences, ranging from the expected (rats, bats, impossibly tight spaces) to the possibly supernatural. Not helping matters is Brad’s annoying propensity for intentionally scaring his fellow explorers, via suddenly popping up wearing a spooky mask and faking his death with the aid of vast amounts of ketchup.
Although director/screenwriter Jeff Chamberlain does a reasonably effective job of conveying the setting’s darkly ominous environs, the proceedings remain resolutely thrill-free. The dialogue and characterizations rarely stray from the stereotypical — Ethan regales the group with an account of his days working in India as a customer service representative for U.S. companies, and later displays a surprising amount of expert knowledge about mines — and such plot developments as Laurie going crazy and biting the head off a rat seem tacked on from another movie.
Eschewing gratuitous gore in favor of creepy atmospherics, the PG-13 rated film also suffers from its inevitably dark and murky cinematography that will make viewing it on small screens a trying experience.
Opens: Aug. 15 (Gravitas Ventures)
Cast: Alexa Vega, Reiley McClendon, Saige Thompson, Charan Prabhakar, Adam Hendershott, Valerie C. Walker
Director/screenwriter/producer: Jeff Chamberlain
Executive producers: Mark Victor, Scott Woldman, Steve Zacharias
Director of photography: Brian Sullivan
Editors: Michael R. Fox, Steve Haugen
Production designer: Adam Henderson
Costume designer: Shantell Guy-Bailey
Composer: Russ Howard III
Rated PG-13, 96 min.
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