From the Astroturf to the green grass of the local cemetery, the former star quarterback of his small Texas town is now the resident creepy mortician and he's not too happy about this reversal of fortune. So, to vent his frustration, Ely (Dennis Quiaid) buries people alive. Things start to unravel when Ely hires high schooler Travis (Tony Oller) to mow his lawn and the boy discovers some questionable lumps in the ground and enlists his friends to spy on Ely. What follows is a formulaic foray into previously tread teen thriller territory along the lines of Disturbia (which was basically a Read Window for the kiddies).
Travis has a few demons driving him to the point of obsession — not the least of which is a lingering guilt over the death of his sister years ago, which has led to an unhealthy belief in the paranormal. Travis is convinced there are ghosts in the funeral home, and these fearful fantasies are further fueled when he's made to read The Tell-Tale Heart and Macbeth in his English class.
When one of Travis's clique is killed in the line of snoop-duty, things spiral even further out of control. But on the outside, Ely is the picture of a perfect citizen: still riding the wave of his old glory days, the charming weirdo is able to fool school faculty and law enforcement. How can the kids prove he's really a psycho?
While certainly a low-budget flick which relies heavily on suspense over almost everything — meaning, there's a lot of cat and mouse stalking around or/and talking about how spooky Ely is — Beneath the Darkness doesn't necessary sink or succeed. For me, its saving grace is the cast: Quaid of course is ever-watchable (if rather hammy); the teen boyfriend and girlfriend (Oller, and Friday Night Lights' Aimee Teegarden) aren't cutesy; and even the supporting cast (David Christopher as Coach Sovic, especially) make the most of their small roles.