One of the major issues in politics for a good while has been immigration and an increase in illegal immigrants. There are many Americans who see immigrants as a blight while still enjoying the cheap labor they provide, some even abusing the fact that they are undocumented. The film Beneath Us explores the struggles of being a day laborer who is just trying to get by when they are thrust into a truly harrowing situation. At the mercy of people who uncaring to their disposition and want nothing more than to use them until there is nothing left.
Alejandro is surprised to find his younger brother Memo on his doorstep one night and takes him in. While working as a day laborer the two brothers, along with other workers, are hired to work on a guest house for a white woman. After working the whole day nonstop, they lay down to sleep before they are abruptly woken by the woman threatening to not pay them if they stop. After one of the workers cuts his hand, they begin to suspect there is something wrong with the homeowners when the woman is unsympathetic to the man’s wound. Everything begins to spiral when they are caught in the couples house looking for a way to leave the estate.
One of the most fascinating things about the film is how the white homeowners embody the spirit of Americans who hate immigrants, with each one taking different attributes. The woman sexualizes the workers all the while being racist and cruel to them, at one point accusing illegals of being violent after she has already killed one of the workers. She is America’s obsession with materialism, seeing them as nothing but a means to make her house more beautiful. The man, on the other hand, respects the workers as the tools he sees them as when they can no longer work they lose their purpose. His greed is shown through his interest in them building the guest house to increase the wealth of their home.
The plot of Beneath Us comes across as something that could easily be heavy-handed but aside from a moment or two where the couple become cartoonishly evil, the film handles its message well. The movie speeds along at a great pace with the momentum of the film rarely stopping. The plot only slumps when it comes to the two brothers and their side conflict. It only comes up three times at the most but it feels underdeveloped and the resolution of one of the characters is abrupt in a semi-meaningful yet awkward way.
Beneath Us is a film that could have failed in a truly spectacular way if it was mishandled by someone incompetent. What we instead get is a thrilling experience that has moments that are downright chilling and puts you in the shoes of these men. Not just having the fear of not getting paid for your hard work but the possibility that you will die on this property is terrifying. Moreso when those people remind you that it is your words against there’s if the authorities are called, and that is a fight you will lose.