Interview With Ben Ketai Director Of ‘Beneath’!


Recently, director Ben Ketai was kind enough to answer a few questions I had about his latest movie ‘Beneath’. He had some very interesting things to say about his film–about a group of miners trapped underground with an unknown evil, and their descent into insanity.

You can read my review of the movie here, and remember to watch it on VOD tomorrow, Friday June 27!

You’re no stranger to the horror genre, how did this compare to the other projects you’ve worked on?

The best thing about working on Beneath was the independent spirit of it. Strangely it’s the first time I’ve ever directed a project that did not have a studio or a network watching over our shoulder. Whereas we’re usually having to be more concerned with who’s starring in the film from a sales perspective, or how many jump scares there are per page, with Beneath we were all of one mind — the producers, myself, the crew — and our goal was simply to make the best movie possible. The experience of working on the film was quite liberating as it allowed me to be more experimental with performance and camera, the result of which I feel has birthed a much more grounded and cerebral genre film than what you’d see from a big studio.

Ben Ketai

It looks absolutely terrifying, there seems to be some pretty disturbing imagery, are there any scenes you’re particularly proud of?

It’s hard to point to a single scene since I think the overall effect of the movie relies on the gradual descent into darker, more claustrophobic spaces as well as the subtle unraveling of the characters’ psyches. However, if you held a gun to my head and said “pick one!” I’d have to say the scene where Sam climbs into the inflatable rescue chamber. It’s a yellow inflatable tent with a three-foot high ceiling, and let’s just say, well, when someone’s outside it with a pickaxe trying to kill you, and the tent begins to deflate all around you, there is this wonderfully hopeless sense of claustrophobia that I can personally relate to. Not that I’ve ever been accosted by someone wielding a pickaxe, but you know what I mean.

How much of the effects were practical, and how much was CGI? 

Almost all of the effects were a healthy mix of both practical and CG. I wanted to create something horrifying that audiences have never seen before, and to do so, we had to use a marriage of the two. Gary Tunnicliffe’s incredibly talented team would set a foundation with makeup and special contact lenses. Then our very clever VFX Supervisor, Jamison Goei, had his team jump in to manipulate the characters’ faces in a most unsettling manner. The result is something that feels disturbingly real. It even gives me nightmares.

Was the final product close to your initial idea, or did the film go in a different direction than you thought it would?

That’s a tricky question because, and I think I speak for most directors here, a film never turns out exactly the way you intend it to. The process of making a film is a journey of discovery, and I like to leave myself open to making those tiny discoveries along the way. You  have to embrace the happy accidents, accept the stuff that didn’t quite work, and relish in those moments where it all comes together as planned. At the end of the day, I can say that the film in many ways resembles what I had in mind, and in other ways it does not. But some of those ways I ended up liking more than what was originally in my head. At the end of the day, I’m very proud of the film we made and think that audiences are going to soil themselves while watching it.

Anything you’d like our readers to know about the film before they watch it? 

All I can say is, if you have the opportunity, you need to see it in the theater. I hate sounding like one of those snobby filmmakers who insists that everything be experienced on the big screen, but this time I really mean it. BENEATH is an awesome sensory experience. We had one of the most talented sound teams in the business working on this project and it really pays off when you watch it in a dark theater with 5.1. Failing that, if your only choice is to watch at home, I suggest turning off all the lights and making it as loud as you safely can. Or not safely. Either way.