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Movie Review: 'Beneath the Darkness' -- 2 stars

(L to R): Devon Werkheiser, Tony Oller and

(L to R): Devon Werkheiser, Tony Oller and Aimee Teegarden; below, Dennis Quaid. Credit: (L to R): Devon Werkheiser, Tony Oller and Aimee Teegarden; below, Dennis Quaid.

Beneath the Darkness
2 stars
Directed by Martin Guigui
Starring Dennis Quaid, Tony Oller, Aimee Teegarden
Rated R

January is traditionally the slow season when it comes to new movies, with long-shelved flicks and other oddities populating the big screens while Oscar contenders grab most of the attention with their continuing theatrical runs.

So naturally, one of the highest-profile new flicks this week is the out-of-nowhere "Beneath the Darkness," which should have bypassed theaters and gone straight to Netflix.

To be fair, there aremoments of genuine suspense buried within this poorly plotted, forgettable horror-comedy from director Martin Guigui. But if it's to be remembered at all, it will be for the bizarre spectacle of co-star Dennis Quaid going so over the top that Nicolas Cage - the undisputed king of overdoing it - would be proud.

As Ely, a murderous mortician who terrorizes high school students Travis (Tony Oller) and Abby (Aimee Teegarden), Quaid delivers a virtual YouTube highlight reel of overacting. Future viewers are sure to find hours of amusement in the spectacle of Quaid's violent facial contortions and eruptions of childlike rage, amplified by ridiculous lines.

The movie's few successful moments are hampered by screenwriter Bruce Wilkinson's lack of imagination. His script could have used a tune-up in storytelling basics: First of all, if you're going to make a movie about a suburban murderer, don't make your bad guy a mortician; go for something more innocuous. Second, switch things up a bit -by the third time someone is buried alive, you don't even need to watch the rest of the movie to know what is going to happen.

Overall, there's nothing to the story beyond the basic plot of Travis, Abby and their friends investigating the deranged mortician, trying to prove his murderousness.

But just when the rest of "Beneath the Darkness" gets you down, there's Quaid dancing with the embalmed corpse of his late wife to put a smile on your face.

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