Although it sounds like a good name for a subterranean horror about evil creatures that lurk beneath our feet, The Ones Below is actually a psychological horror that highlights the risky business of living in a terraced Georgian conversion flat in London.
Here the terror beneath is actually an unhinged couple who move into the flat below Justin (Stephen Campbell Moore) and Kate (Clémence Poésy) shortly before the birth of their first child.
Although it should be an exciting time for the pair, their relationship is already complicated with Justin constantly working long hours, Kate feeling unappreciated and an unfortunate family history that has had a negative impact on Kate’s family and state of mind.
Initially the couple are relieved to find that the long deserted flat beneath them is going to be lived in again. And when they discover that the new neighbours, Jon (David Morrissey) and Theresa (Laura Birn) are also expecting a child, they’re eager to befriend them.
But after their first encounter, it seems that there is something a little odd about Jon and Theresa. He’s strict and cold and she seems afraid of him.
Then, during an unbelievably unlucky evening together, Theresa falls down some stairs and her unborn child is killed as a result.
Blaming Justin and Kate entirely, the bereaved pair make their resentment clear, making the living arrangement torturous.
Eventually they seem to forget and forgive, but soon it becomes obvious that they have evil intentions, attempting to break Kate’s sanity, drive a wedge between her and Justin and ultimately steal their child as repayment for the one they lost.
Here we have all of the elements needed for a creepy home invasion horror where the most precious prize (the baby) is at stake. But we’ve seen it done before numerous times before with films such as The Hand that Rocks the Cradle and The Sitter.
The Ones Below does try to add some intriguing new elements, with the London setting, obsessive compulsive habits of Jon and Theresa and an unnervingly slow but relentless pace towards the inevitable.
Sadly though, it just isn’t enough to keep things interesting and as the film enters its final quarter there are no real surprises.
Another slight let down is the performances by the cast. It’s hard to pin down whether it’s more the script, direction or actors that are to blame, but the characters seem unnatural and just don’t fit together. Even Morrissey seems a little unsure of how exactly he should be playing his part.
Worst of all, Kate and Justin just aren’t likeable, meaning that audience ends up feeling quite undecided about who should end up with the baby.
The look and feel of the film is good, but unexceptional. And the unnerving events that take place just aren’t quite shocking enough to make this filmstand out.
Ultimately The Ones Below ends up being a thoroughly average affair that doesn’t invoke more than a frown or two from those that watch it.