Ian Phillips is a prolific short-story horror writer. He has written several scripts and would be keen to work with fledgling horror directors. Some of the links to his short stories are Mr Cotter, That Which Covers Us, and Dragunov’s Last Performance. Both Monarch and its continuation Red Queen were presented in our digital magazine. Here, Ian guest reviews Beneath Loch Ness.
Released in 2001, the film ‘Beneath Loch Ness’ boasts the talents of Hollywood superstar Patrick Bergin and Lysette Anthony (Krull and Hollyoaks). In a nutshell, Professor Case Howell (Brian Wimmer) travels to Scotland to investigate the contents of Loch Ness after the death of a palaeontologist colleague. Case, along with television producer Elizabeth Borden (Lysette Anthony), sets out to capture the famed creature.
It is such an extraordinary film experience for so many reasons, notably, because no one in the cast has a Scottish accent (or even attempts one), despite being set in Scotland, and even the local chief of Police (an Australian actor [you may remember him as the camp bad guy in Commando]) has no Scottish accent and comes across as though he’s from Manchester. The attention to Scotland’s geography or common knowledge of the country seems to have been bypassed at every possible scene. Here, in this film, you can witness the main protagonist pay for drinks in a Scottish bar with US dollars. Vegetation is also seen growing around the perimeter of the loch, which is atypical of Loch Ness on account of the water being so cold. Apparently, this is because the film crew went to down to Loch Ness and got so much stock footage that they never filmed it in Loch Ness; the majority was filmed in the States. This is most evident when UK police are seen driving in 4×4 American trucks; left-hand drives are also frequently visible throughout or when Case picks up Elizabeth from the train station, it is clear that she is standing in front of a blue screen.
The plot is very derivative and silly, with abundance of continuity errors and on repeat viewing still offering little clarity. Indeed, the silliness goes thermonuclear when we witness a kilted, face-painted Patrick Bergin, channelling Mel Gibson from Braveheart, hunting the beast.
This is by no means the worst or incompetently directed film I have ever seen, that would be Mama Mia – hands down. However, as we dealing with a review of horror films, I can truly say this is on the list of worst horror films I have ever witnessed. I am certain there were budget constraints with this movie, which no doubt added to the mediocre production; however, budget constraints were heavy on the films ‘Halloween’, ‘Paranormal Activity’ or ‘Sinister’, yet fine horror films were created. I am truly glad that I never paid the price of a DVD for this train wreck of a movie, where film makers dodged any attempt to conduct any basic research into the country or legend. If there was a Plan-B of horror movies, though, this would be a strong contender.