DNA Banner 03
horror dna logo header right

Beneath the Flesh DVD Review

Written by Robert Gold
DVD released by Pathfinder Pictures
Beneath The Flesh 01 Beneath The Flesh 02

Written and directed by Randall Kaplan
2009, Region 0 (NTSC), 72 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on May 26th, 2009


Randall Kaplan
Steve Arons
Bianca Jamotte
Michael Whitney

 Beneath The Flesh 03 Beneath The Flesh 04



Randall Kaplan has been cranking out disturbing short films since 2004. Five of his horror works are presented in this new collection titled Beneath the Flesh. The DVD includes Boxhead (23 minutes), The Basement (5 minutes), The Child (5 minutes), Id (12 minutes) and Insides (28 minutes.)

Ordinarily the details of the plot should follow, except that in Kaplan's films the plot is secondary to the visual style. The titles all share similar themes and are more about atmosphere than events. For example, the protagonist of Boxhead (Steve Arons) is a man facing his golden years and dealing with an antagonistic childhood creation. Id is an exploration into the mind of a madman, and The Basement features two men in a basement, one of which has a knife! Kaplan himself stars in Insides as someone trying to keep his darker desires at bay. Each film takes a different approach in exploring the internal horrors of the mind. The Child is a disturbing animated piece reminiscent of Eraserhead by way of stop-motion.

The heroes of these short films struggle to maintain control of their lives while they are surrounded by the smothering world of shadows. The majority of the episodes are presented with limited dialogue and are punched up with a powerful sound design that pushes the viewer deeper into the director's vision. The images are often surreal and occasionally hypnotic, challenging the viewer to step beyond face value and submerge themselves into the rich symbolism.

Kaplan's influences are legion, yet he manages to make his own voice heard among them. David(s) Lynch and Cronenberg and even the Brothers Quay have all inspired Kaplan's world of Kafka nightmares. The fear of losing control rests at the heart of his works and plays out in a variety of scenarios that leave a wake of emotional destruction in their path. Kaplan uses universal themes, but the portrayal is uniquely his own.

Cinematographer Leo Schott III contributes a gorgeous look to the majority of the films (Insides was shot by Kira Davies and Ari Schaeffer). His masterful working of light and shadow beautifully conveys the landscape of Kaplan's surreal nightmares. The deep pools of blackness hide many elements in these shorts, and together this team creates beauty within the horrors.

Kaplan's sincerity is evident in the interview segment on the disc. It is a nice touch that he sits in an office trying to convey his desire to present the richness of opposing influences, while a Transformers toy rests on a table beneath a poster for Werner Herzog's Nosferatu.

 Beneath The Flesh 05 Beneath The Flesh 06


Video and Audio:

The picture quality is not without faults, including some minor macroblockig, but that may be due in part to the source material. Blacks are rock solid and contrast levels are well represented, allowing for some of the other issues to be overlooked.

Audio options are limited to a 2-channel stereo mix that is quite sufficient.

Beneath The Flesh 07 Beneath The Flesh 08


Special Features:

There are some decent special features here, but sadly a director's commentary track is absent. Kaplan gives an eight minute interview that is fairly informative, although a scene-specific track would have been nice. A four minute gallery of stills includes some storyboard art. A trailer is present for this and other fine Pathfinder titles.

Beneath The Flesh 09 Beneath The Flesh 10



Movie: 2.5 Stars Beneath The Flesh Cover
Buy Amazon Us
Video: 2 Stars
Audio: 2 Stars
Features: 2 Stars
Overall: 2.5 Stars


 Beneath The Flesh 11 Beneath The Flesh 12



Having never heard of Kaplan before this collection, I welcomed his style of horror with each short film. His influences are strong, and I look forward to future offerings that may hopefully include a feature-length film.

This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.


About The Author
Robert Gold
Author: Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer - USA
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
Recent Articles


Join Us!

Hit the buttons below to follow us, you won't regret it...