Despite having a lot of it going spare, I really hate having my time wasted. I hope that doesn’t give away too much about my opinion of this shitty fucking film, but I will say it’s been a long time since I’ve watched a film that made me physically angry when I realised I had lost hours of my life I could never recover. If I awoke tomorrow as the last man on Earth, the realisation that all I had left to look forward to in life was Death’s cold embrace would leave me in higher spirits than at the end of Nine Miles Down. With that out the way, let’s see what I thought of the movie…
Nine Miles Down is about a security guard called Jack investigating an isolated drilling rig in the middle of the Sahara after it mysteriously ceased communications with the outside world. He is remarkably unperturbed to discover, upon arrival, that everyone is dead and the walls are covered in arcane markings drawn in blood; the kind of thing that is usually horror film short-hand for evil cult or mental illness.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that Jack used to be a cop, but had to quit the force after his wife quite rationally killed herself and both their children because her husband, being a police officer, often had to work. Oh, his wife also thought he was playing away, I guess, but even then you’d think she’d at least consider divorce before killing herself and the kids. It’s almost as if the whole horribly contrived plot point was shoe-horned in to justify the rest of the educationally sub-normal story. And if you think this paragraph was an awkward segue then you should see him drop the bombshell during a romantic meal. Mercifully the film then shifts to a straight up Channel Five erotic thriller sex scene, so we’re spared what was probably the world’s most socially awkward pillow talk.
Meanwhile, in the main plot, Jack spends twenty minutes bumbling around the compound being uninteresting until a female scientist appears literally out of nowhere and is just a bit too keen to whip everything off in front of the strange man she has just met and whose arrival she had no knowledge of. It’s at this point the viewer may begin to craft theories that the woman is not all that she seems and I swear to God that’s what the film was going for too, at some stage, because otherwise almost everything she says and does for most of the film makes absolutely no sense.
Actually, just about everything in this film suggests that the screenplay was put together after a house fire destroyed most of the writer’s scripts, leaving him a weekend to slap together some of his X-Files fan fiction with the pilot for a failed sitcom about New York’s most unconvincing cop living with the most unreasonable bitch of a wife, ever.
There’s also an on-going mystery about what lies at the bottom of the massive hole that was being drilled in the desert, but that’s dropped within the space of about five minutes, despite being the single most interesting plot device the film has to offer and a good opportunity to do more of the psychological stuff hinted at earlier in the film, (there’s a mildly creepy scene when Jack first tries to sleep at the compound.) The film jettisons all of the actual horror stuff along with any coherent plot right out of the airlock for a final act cop-out where it’s revealed that –oh shit– it was all in Jack’s head because the mystery hole had released an airborne hallucinogen that caused everyone except Lady Scientist to have one of the acid trips from Dumbo.
The best thing about the ‘it was all in your head’ trope, in this case, is that it only serves to make the plot even more convoluted and broken. First of all: if the supernatural stuff was caused by an airborne hallucinogen then why did every single one of the scientists only see horrific things? You’d think at least one of them would have just lay on his back, watching the stars and telling everyone how we were all connected to the cosmos and that the world is, like, totally a giant egg, or something, man.
Worse still, we’re expected to believe that Lady Scientist only kept her marbles because, as the only woman in the compound, she lived in a little hutch in case one of the frustrated male scientists decided to get his rape on (it’s worth noting she was still sharing communal showers with them and came to the isolated compound in the middle of nowhere equipped with nothing but hot pants and crop tops. You know, like a scientist definitely would.)
My main issue with this explanation is that the hutch and the compound were right fucking next to each other. The kitchen and all other facilities were in the compound and, finally, she’d been surrounded by the shit for months whereas Jack had only been there a day before he started seeing his dead wife and kids. Even if she was only being exposed in small doses on a regular basis, given how quickly he went off the rails, she’d still have been going fucking bananas by the time he showed up. I guess that would explain why she kept going god damn jogging in the desert every day despite her entire team being dead and despite the fact that it was the god damn desert.
In short, the whole film is a huge, confused mess. I don’t mean the plot itself is hard to follow –it has all the incredibly frustrating traits of a film that thinks it’s cleverer than it actually is– but it plays the is she/isn’t she the devil card so many times that by the end of the film I was willing Jack to shoot himself because if I had to watch one more drawn-out-to-fill-up-time scene where the camera spins around to imply he was losing his mind I was going to measure up a noose for myself. And, as a rule, when a film makes you want to kill yourself or the protagonist, that’s generally considered to be the point at which you have failed as a film maker.
My flatmate wondered whether or not this film broke even at the cinema (having suspiciously good special effects for such a creatively bankrupt crock of shite) but I would be surprised if it broke even on the fucking catering budget; it isn’t even the kind of film you’d find in the bargain bin at Poundland.
This is the DVD they’d use to prop up the damn bin.