Review: Fantasia Winner ‘Man Underground,’ a Brilliantly Acted Indie Drama
By: J. Carlos Menjivar
Here at We are Indie Horror we promote independent horror art in its many facets. Whether it be the eclectic hybrid of visuals and text in comics, the painstakingly written word in books, the collaboration in film, or the tormented brush stroke on a canvas, we are here to get your name out there and discover what lies at the fringes of the mainstream. We have an insatiable passion for the macabre and the inexplicable. We embrace the darkness like we would a loved one, accepting the strange and the eerie like an old friend.
Today we take a break from the scares and the horrifying to feature what we endorse at the heart of We are Indie Horror: creativity and the independent spirit. Here we have a film that is not of the horror genre, but a drama, with sci-fi elements, that I think is worth a watch for fans of us, horror, and movies.
Man Underground, the film in question, just played at the Fantasia International Film Festival making such an impact that it took the New Flesh Award for Best Feature.
Starring George Basil as Willem Koda, a scruffy and paranoid conspiracy theorist, and former geologist, with very little friends, and things to do (besides speaking at sparsely filled rooms about his alien theories), Man Underground is about a man at odds with his past and unable to move forward from his own personal Hell. His only friend, Todd (Andy Rocco), suggests that Willem focus his obsession into something healthier, artistic even, like writing a book or shooting a short film. After meeting plucky waitress Flossie (Pamela Fila), Willem cranks out an autobiographical screenplay about his possible encounter with aliens, as a former geologist, casting Flossie to star in his film, because, as it turns out, she’s an aspiring actress.
Soon enough, the once reclusive Willem opens up (somewhat), as he explores his unfortunate encounter and subsequent obsession that would lead to the departure of his wife Tessa. However, things begin to complicate when Flossie’s boyfriend comes to visit and begins to mock the extravagant views of antisocial Willem.
Man Underground is sparse, using a few locations and characters, and yet tells a compelling story about a man struggling with himself, stuck in his own personal island that we as a viewer only get a glimpse of. Willem is tormented by Tessa’s departure as it is revealed to us through the scenarios in his film with Flossie (who plays his wife).
Ultimately, what makes Man Underground so fascinating, is its wonderful cast. Willem, as played by George Basil, the grumpy curmudgeon with a mysterious aura, is a standout as he stoically hides his emotions like a lucrative government secret. Rocco as Todd, the mumbling shy-guy fallen smitten over Flossie, and who wouldn’t, compliments Basil’s straitlaced character. The film is stolen by the talents of Pamela Fila, who exquisitely, and endearingly, plays Flossie’s charisma with an infectious bubbliness. The film features no shortage of charm filled with quirky performances all around that will keep you glued to your seat.
Man Underground is the compelling feature length independent film from Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine, who both share credit writer and director, that is definitely worth a viewing.