Buried (2023)

Since 1999’s “The Blair Witch Project,” found footage films have taken the horror genre by storm with movies like Rec (2007), Creep (2014), and Cloverfield (2008). Something about the shaky camerawork and low-resolution video adds to the immersive quality of horror, making viewers feel like they’re a part of the nightmare, and the 2023 film Underground is no exception. Directed by Lars Janssen, Underground blends the uneasy terror of found footage with the claustrophobia of being trapped in a system of subterranean tunnels and gives us something that will leave viewers questioning their sanity by the end.



Underground starts light, as many found footage films do, to give us a bit of exposition into the relationship between its main characters. Ella’s friends Claire, Riley, Jess, and Ziggy, are preparing for her bachelorette party, part of which involves filming everything as a part of their wedding gift to her. The night begins with them checking into a lavish hotel suite and donning ridiculous costumes. Ella, the bride-to-be, is dressed up as a receptionist, and Claire, the de facto leader of the friend group and the organizer of the evening is dressed up as 1980s Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johson, complete with a black pleather fanny pack. Singer Jess is dressed up as a puppy, soccer player Ziggy as a frog, and Riley is dressed as none other than chef Gordon Ramsey. With costumes on, they have a few drinks before heading out to a nightclub for an evening of drinking and dancing.

It’s not until the taxi ride back to the hotel that things start to go awry. Partway through their raucous journey, one of the girls gets sick, prompting the cab driver to kick them out of the taxi, leaving them stranded in the middle of Guernsey and forcing them to walk the long way back to the hotel. After taking a shortcut, the girls end up trapped in a series of underground tunnels that used to function as an underground hospital used by the Nazis during World War Two. It’s here that the tension begins to ramp up as the girls become separated, running through the pitch-black tunnels looking frantically for a way out. While the footage of the girls in the tunnels can get a bit repetitive, the pacing speeds along quickly enough to keep viewers from getting bored, especially once the girls start to wonder whether or not they’re alone in the tunnels.


Overall, the film is mostly successful at accomplishing what it sets out to do. It lulls viewers into a false sense of security during the first twenty minutes or so, then drops them into the abandoned hospital where the sense of dread quickly begins to build. Unfortunately, it is here that Underground runs into some issues, the main one being that it does such a good job of building up a sense of urgency and uncertainty that viewers will likely be disappointed when the film finishes without much of a climax. The film also falls victim to being too similar to another documentary-style film, 2014’s As Above So Below. Both films take place in maze-like underground structures, but the latter makes much better use of the eerie and discombobulating setting by adding paranormal cultists, hallucinations, endless loops in the catacombs, and, ironically, better lighting even in a largely dark environment. While As Above So Below feels like it’s building up to something, Underground, on the other hand, builds tension, but doesn’t seem to go anywhere with it. While both films are undoubtedly worth watching, As Above So Below, comes out on top with a better plot, a bigger climax, and an overall scarier vibe, succeeding where Underground fell short.

However, this isn’t to say that Underground, isn’t a good film in its own right. The setting is claustrophobia-inducing, the camerawork and editing are excellent, and the acting feels almost effortless. It does a great job of drawing the viewer in and fully immersing them in the bleak stagnance of the tunnels. The feelings of dread and uneasiness that the film cultivates are palpable and the use of light and darkness throughout the film keeps viewers off balance. Furthermore, the clever use of sound and echoes in the underground hospital creates a hauntingly eerie ambiance and adds to the disconcerting feeling that permeates through the whole movie. The characters don’t have elaborate backstories, but we see them and the genuine love they have for each other and we really root for them to find their way out and make it safely to Ella’s wedding. 


For those wondering, yes, the Guernsey Underground Hospital featured in “Underground,” is a real place, which is one of the main reasons to give this film a watch.  There’s something inherently creepy about knowing that the girls are actually running around in a potentially haunted, definitely terrifying underground labyrinth created by Nazis. With over 75,000 feet of tunnels, it’s not hard to imagine getting lost in the hospital and it makes the movie feel that much more real. The hospital is open to the public for tours, but it’s even scarier to know that the cast was there during the off-season, running scared in the dark with no one else around.

While Underground is probably not destined to become a blockbuster hit, it also doesn’t deserve to be left buried. It’s a fun foray into a girls’ night out gone wrong in the weirdest possible way. The film utilizes a historic setting to give the movie some authenticity and creates something that, while not wholly original, is a new spin on a popular subgenre. Overall, it’s definitely worth a watch for horror aficionados looking for a new found footage feature.

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