Beneath The Mississippi (2008)

AUGUST 20, 2011


I just looked over my list of “Crap” films on HMAD (refresher – films without any redeeming value whatsoever; the worst of the worst in other words), and I am hard-pressed to find a movie of less value than Beneath The Mississippi, which fails on nearly every level a film can be measured by. In fact, some of these films I should probably “de-tag”, especially the earlier ones in HMAD history as I was naively thinking it couldn’t get worse than things like They or The Breed (let alone harmless, forgettable junk like Pulse or Prey), but believe me, if 3-4 years from now I am reviewing something and saying “you know, in retrospect, Beneath The Mississippi wasn’t THAT bad”, I will quit on the spot.

Honestly, apart from a fairly decent main theme, there wasn’t anything even remotely approaching a decent movie here, or even a watchable one. Hell even in Dead Calling or Drive Thru (frequent punching bags) my reviews point out that at least there was a cute girl to look at or something, but this can’t even offer that much. And it’s not a slam on the actresses, it’s the fact that I can’t SEE THEM CLEARLY enough to judge whether or not they’re attractive or not. Just take a look at these screenshots:

Now, I didn’t go out of my way to find the worst of the worst, I just took them from 30 minute intervals in the film. You’ll notice the last one’s not THAT bad (still underexposed and poorly digitized/compressed), but guess what – that’s actually as best as it gets in the film, I think. Most resemble the others, where it’s so murky that it’s hard to even separate the character from the background, let alone any actual features. And yes, this is from Echo Bridge so it’s possible that the transfer is partially to blame, but with everything else in the movie clearly NOT the Bridge’s fault, I will side with them on this one and chalk it up to the filmmaker’s obvious incompetence.

What other problems, you might ask? Well how about the fact that the movie can’t even stick with one aspect ratio throughout its bloated 112 minute runtime? You get 2.35:1, 1:78:1, and some sort of approximation of 2.35:1 where the top portion and bottom portion of “black bars” aren’t evenly distributed, as if they did a mask over their footage in Final Cut Pro and didn’t bother to check to make sure it was even. To be fair, it DOES seem like there’s some sort of attempt to make this a creative decision, as one shot actually changes from 2.35 to 1.78 as a character dies (I think?) so maybe there’s some sort of “in the real world it’s 1.78 but in the hallucination world it’s 2.35” motif going on, but if so it’s a remarkably failed attempt at one, and if I hated myself enough to watch any part of this movie again I could probably debunk that anyway (in fact I know I can since the issue begins in the first few minutes, before they even set off on their trip let alone start going crazy).

At least, I THINK they are going crazy. I am not a deaf person (in fact my hearing is about my only sense that functions at 100%, I can usually hear my cell phone buried in my pants in another room while I’m watching TV in my pajamas!), but I think I know now what the world “sounds” like to those who have at least partial hearing left – it sounds like Beneath The Mississippi. The dialogue in the film doesn’t seem to be spoken, only muttered – only about 10% of the lines are clearly spoken and recorded. After the opening scene’s narration, at least 10-15 minutes went by before I could pick out another wholly discernible line of dialogue; even catching the character’s names took some effort. And some lines are clearly dubbed, so the filmmakers know how that process works, so I am baffled why they didn’t just re-dub the entire movie once it became clear that their sound guy was clearly drunk or working with malfunctioning equipment. I can understand a radio through a wall easier than the average scene in this movie.

In fact the movie inspired what will be my next week’s article for Badass Digest (I’m writing about Fright Night this week): taking pride in your work. Having just witnessed some of the post production issues on Chillerama, I understand that sometimes you just have to let stuff go because the time just isn’t there to do it the way you want (even with pointless stuff like my own credits – I wanted to do more animation with the full-screen credits for the four directors and the producers, but just wasn’t given enough time). But here’s the thing: Chillerama is premiering in two days and was bought up prior to completion by a major distribution company, with a release date in mind, whereas Mississippi was an independent film shot in 2004 and the movie was first released in July of 2011 (with a few festival screenings in 2008, as best as I can tell – their official website is maddeningly vague). Needless to say, I think they had time to go back and fix the sound, edit it properly so that room tone stayed consistent as they cut back and forth during a conversation, sync up the dubbed shots a bit better, etc. Hell I myself could improve this movie just using the DVD and my own personal (non-professional) computer, so there’s plenty of ways to improve it when they have the actual elements at their disposal. I'm sure they didn't INTEND their audio to be this awful, but the point is there was time to improve it, if not fix it entirely. And besides, being a primarily exterior film, ANY production would have known that ADR would be necessary as source sound would often be marred by things beyond control - i.e. planes, other boats, birds, etc.

They also could have edited it down a bit (or a lot). 112 minutes for a movie that’s essentially Blair Witch but with 6 people is ridiculous; even YellowBrickRoad came in much shorter. The one benefit to never having anything approaching coherent dialogue in your movie or a complicated plot (basically they go down the river, one disappears, the rest start freaking out and yelling at each other, one by one they die/disappear) is that you can literally just remove entire chunks of it and it won’t matter, because no one in the audience can probably understand much of what is happening anyway, nor have we been given enough reason to care about any of the characters to be upset if a slice-happy editor inadvertently removed the scene where they disappeared.

But dammit, I stuck with it. I would not let the unintelligible dialogue, the image so ugly that I was worried my TV might commit suicide, the laughably bad production value (a newspaper headline about the “Soul Survivor” of some tragedy is a particular highlight), or the basic fact that I hated it beat me! Sure, I had plenty of Xbox games to play and other movies/shows to watch, and could have just said “Fuck you”, thrown the disc in the trash, and watched some random Maneater movie on Netflix, but I was hellbent on making it all the way through. And this is great, because I then looked up the movie on IMDb and found that I seem to be the first person to actually watch the goddamn thing. Not only did it not have any external or user reviews, but it didn’t even have 5 VOTES yet (mine seems to be the 5th, in fact), and the only posts on its messageboard are from the director. The DVD has been out for a month and yet not even the usual trolls have bothered to chime in with their “worst movie ever!” insight (for once I might not even counter that they haven’t seen enough movies – I sure as hell have and I am contemplating slotting this as indeed the worst movie I’ve ever seen). Not to mention, it apparently DID show at a festival in 2008 (and won two awards, for the love of Christ), but the internet yields absolutely no reactions of any kind on any site. Even some of those obscure (pre-internet) Hong Kong movies I’ve seen at the New Bev I can find SOMETHING on, but this, after about a half hour, the only evidence of it being watched I could find were my own tweets about how terrible it was.

Let’s keep it that way. The movie is not available on Netflix streaming or anything of that sort, best as I can tell, and even a movie this terrible doesn’t deserve to be downloaded, so the only way to see it would be to buy a copy, and I strongly urge that you do not do that (I’ll be keeping my copy as a reminder to keep from being too harsh on any other film in the future). And it’s too goddamn long to even merit a “hey let’s get drunk and watch this” type viewing. Not to mention, the film’s presentation will have you convinced that you’re already drunk out of your mind even if you hadn’t taken your first sip, so it’s potentially dangerous as well.

You may notice that I haven’t mentioned any names yet. There’s a reason: it’s possible that the filmmakers (or at least, whoever did their credits) knew how terrible the movie was and tried to obscure their involvement, because how else could you explain these illegible credits? Even the damn title is near impossible to make out:

So perhaps Joanic Dshayivr? doesn’t want to be associated with this thing, and thus I will respect his/her wishes. I do not wish them luck on their next project, however. If in 7 years this was the best they could do I can’t imagine how bad something that was “rushed” (like a normal movie) would turn out.

What say you? (Nothing, no one else has seen it.)


  1. you gotta be kidding me with the last 30 seconds of that trailer.

  2. I saw it. You echo my sentiments entirely.
    I think the people that gave it awards just got so board with it, that they assumed they did not understand it, and thought it was beyond their intellect, but were to afraid to admit it, even to each other. I cannot think of ANY other reason they would give this waste of time an award not to mention two!

  3. I watched the whole movie,it took me 3 days to do it.It was a total piece of garbage.Just like you i was determined to watch it.Maybe i should start making movies because by the looks of this,it doesn't take much know how.If you're reading this and you haven't seen this piece of horse dung,watch something else.......

  4. It was literally the worst thing I have even seen in my life. I wasted about 2 hours on this piece of shit. Seriously, don't put yourself through the ordeal of trying to watch it. At first I thought I just missed the plot... but it turns out there wasn't one. Horrible. -20 stars.

  5. This film sucks balls. It's hard to hear the actors and I had to adjust my volume continuously throughout the film. Maybe if the director spent time doing his job instead of jacking off he would have noticed. I have nothing personal against homeless hippies and crack whores, but damn... the cast of this film were awful. I recommend setting yourself on fire other than watching this movie.

  6. I just watched it,and the best part,was the beginning when it showed the black and white history of area and the main victim's from the past! Pretty bad,and I'm a person that Gives Benefit of Doubt!

  7. Yep. If I did not get so many laughs out of reading these reviews I wouldn't have posted this and had the balls to admit...I was in this movie. One of the terrible actors in this ridiculous film. If it didn't pay my rent for a while I would have chalked this up as the biggest mistake of my youth...Okay I still do.

  8. And yet, the reply is still anonymous..., which sounds like an internet goofball to me. Which takes away the hilarity of scrolling through every comment. This is probably one of your harshest reviews, but I think the fact that the film merits the tone negates from the full intensity of your statements. Either way... Oh lord.

  9. I just watched this movie on one of those 15 horror movie packs from echo bridge entertainment and...yeah. I thought I was going deaf and that either I was going blind or my computer was malfunctioning. I was looking for a full plot summary so somebody could explain to me what the movie is supposed to be about.

  10. Worst movie I have ever wasted my time on. I really though okay this has got to be good bored me to death for the first half hour, then confused the hell outta me throughout the rest, I didn't understand if mud creatures were attacking or if the group of people were going crazy and killing each other. . . Was there even a plot intended or were they like, hey let's just make a cheap ass movie and confuse the fuck out of people, use a lot of dark scenes and newspaper clippings and they will think it's scary as shit!

  11. At one point I had the volume up so high that when without warning a loud bit arrived it had me clutching my ears in agony and both cats breaking land speed records out of the room. For a film with precious little dialogue I can't understand why it has been dubbed so poorly.

  12. I was confused and still am lol, I agree I HAD to watch it until the end and still I have NO idea what this movie is about .

  13. I just watched this with my family in a pack of three movies. It was ... interesting. I agree with most points but would like to give the benefit of the doubt by saying "maybe the suckiness of sound/video came from the switch to dvd" don't hate on me for that I had to put it out there. My brother had the best scientific reasoning for it, and that was SwampFever. The cinematic version where there are no outward physical symptoms and only psychological and mental signs of the disease. I myself thought it was supposed to be like that for the first half of the movie before giving up and putting it down to Artistic License. It's not the worst movie I've ever seen, and it had a better script than the short film I was in. But Damn! I can't even figure out what the imagery at the end was about and it seems to be the answer to everything. When the answer is too incomprehensible to figure out you have made a bad movie.

  14. I concur.. this film really sucked ass!! I came online to figure it out, can and I'm still lost .

  15. I came across this post while searching trying to figure out what the hell was going on in this movie. Terrible production. No discernible plot. I couldn't imagine a movie that actually got distribution could be so bad. Kept thinking there was some key thing I missed while attempting to see what was happening on screen and wishing there were subtitles. Some explanation of what happened. But nope. Not a damn clue what these people were trying to do. Having read through all this, seems pretty unanimous: The movie really is just total shit. Stole the crown of "worst movie I've ever seen" (out of a couple hundred or so) that the previous movie held on to for several years. That one was boring as hell and nothing happened, but at least I could see and hear what was going on. This one doesn't even have that. And it even won awards? I have some thoughts about that. Thoughts I should probably keep to myself...


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