The oddball premise and quirky characters ultimately aren’t enough to lift up “Man Underground,” a sci-fi-infused indie drama that puts the “alien” back in alienation.
A certified conspiracy geek who was formerly employed as a geologist for the U.S. government, the morose, reclusive Willem Koda (George Basil) scrapes together a semblance of a living giving speeches along the lines of “The Alien Agenda and its Connection to the United States Military.”
Determined to expose the truth that landed him in his current paranoid state, Koda, who looks a bit like the Unabomber, enlists the aid of his best buddy, Todd (an affably goofy Andy Rocco) and a young diner waitress named, yes, Flossie (an appropriately perky Pamela Fila) to make an autobiographical home movie re-enacting key events in his life.
To their credit, first-time filmmakers Michael Borowiec and Sam Marine mine plenty of atmosphere from the rural upstate New York locale, with added sonic enrichment provided by the background buzz of an omnipresent, unseen lawn mower and Zach De Sorbo’s unsettling ambient score.
But there’s also a lot of tedious dialogue that hangs in the dead air permeating Basil’s deliberately unavailable performance.
In the absence of greater character depth, a third act turn of events revealing Koda’s more painful personal truths arrives too late in the game for “Man Underground” to empathetically rise to the occasion.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills