Dead Mine Blu-ray Review
It’s rare in movies that an unprepared wanderer walks into strange territory and comes out the other side without a scratch. That’s no exception for the nameless victim in DEAD MINE’s prologue, who gets swallowed up and sucked into the earth in a matter of seconds. Some years later, the son of a billionaire embarks on his own mission in the jungles of Indonesia, and we quickly get the feeling that, even if he knew of the nameless victim’s fate, Price (Les Loveday, who did stunts for 2007’s STARDUST) still would have gone on his journey.
With his girlfriend Su-Ling (model-turned-actress Carmen Soo) and engineer Stanley (Sam Hazeldine, THE RAVEN) by his side and Captain Tino Prawa (Ario Bayu, JAVA HEAT) and his sergeant (Bang Tigor) supplying muscle and extra ammo, Price thinks the mission will be an easy score. Soon enough, the explorers find themselves in trouble and trapped in a bunker left over from World War II.
Their help is only there to aid the expedition, but some can’t help but wonder what the real purpose is. And then Price tells them: they’re there for Yamashita’s Gold, believed to be a stash of war loot stolen from Southeast Asia and hidden in a number of mines and tunnels. One dismisses it as legend. Another says, “I’d rather be poor and alive.” Unseen forces want them to go away—and so, too, do we.
Co-written by director Steven Sheil (who spent the better part of his career serving as cinematographer on various documentaries, including TEENLAND and GOTH CRUISE) and Ziad Semaan, DEAD MINE spends too much of its first act trying to develop the characters (particularly Price), even though they’re ridiculously greedy and/or exist solely to die before the credits roll (it’s not called DEAD MINE for nothing).
But overall, Sheil handles his sophomore feature (his debut, the horror-thriller MUM & DAD, was released in 2008), no matter how simple-minded the script, with a stable vision. He has apparently insisted on great detail in set design, makeup and costumes, never letting the project look like it was done on sound stages with an amateur crew. And while Sheil does resort to a few cheap scares, a lot of the atmosphere, especially early on, is created through spooky music and sound effects (breathing, shuffling, etc.). There is also little reliance on heavy CGI, as so many movies of this ilk would have.
There aren’t any strong ideas on paper and the execution doesn’t make the movie any more thrilling than others of its breed, but DEAD MINE does show a director making the most of a small budget and letting the crew’s work take the stage.
DEAD MINE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.35:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The video presentation on this Blu-ray of DEAD MINE is strong throughout, with deep black levels that make the cave/mine sequences all the more claustrophobic.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Subtitles in English. As stated in the review, it’s the sound effects and score that create the atmosphere; these aspects both come off appropriately creepy and add a lot to the movie.