Who is Jeff Chamberlain?
It seems like a fair question, seeing the writer/director of Abandoned Mine has, at the age of 60, exactly one behind the camera credit to his name. True, he can slam fourteen jobs as an actor on the table, but seeing that the last (and biggest) one was in 1990’s Pump Up the Volume (thirteenth billed!) one can wonder what he is doing here and now, making movies. Or a movie as it is.
That’s about the biggest mystery Abandoned Mine dishes out, although it tries hard to scare us in many more ways. What did happen in the abandoned mine hundred years and three days ago (apparently they couldn’t make it a round hundred)? Can the murdered mine owner’s soul only rest if his murdered daughters’s soul attach themselves to two female spelunkers and get out that way? Is it a mere coincidence that two females are in the group that gets trapped in the mine? Could any of this get more contrived?
Don’t get me wrong, though, there are plenty of things to like about Abandoned Mine. For one, there is 1980s style dress-up montage. Really! The girls pick out their halloween costumes to a pumping soundtrack, and the only thing missing is a sassy friend judging their choices.
And if that wasn’t enough, there is plenty of good old fashioned quasi-racism humor here. The Indian kid–“my first job was at a call center!” (in Apu’s voice, of course)–is the butt of so many bad jokes that the mere sadness of it all gets funny. Who on earth thought this was a good idea? Credit where credit is due, though: Pay attention and now and again you’ll hear some pretty funny one-liners from the kid in the background. I can only assume these were improvised. Oh! His costume is, I kid you not, Mr Jones! (Sadly not the same mr Jones, but still… Mr Jones!)
I don’t know… The whole high school kids being trapped in a mine, chased by whatever… It’s a bit played out, and it doesn’t help when the actors look to be pushing 40.
I will admit being vaguely curious who was sitting around, splicing together the footage from the mine–oh yes, this is, originally enough, a found footage movie–and, possibly not surprisingly, I was let down, as I so often am.
I do not know who Jeff Chamberlain is, but try as he might, he doesn’t quite reach the dizzying lows of Herr Lommel, close as he might come. When all is said and done, Abandoned Mine is what it is, and it’s at least very good at that, and that’s about what it’s good at.
PS: Valerie C. Walker is the one bright spot in the movie, which is apparently the only one she has starred in. Let’s hope her spirits weren’t crushed too badly by the experience.