“MINE 9”— Survival

“Mine 9”

Survival

Amos Lassen

 When Ryan (Drew Starkey), an Appalachian teenager shows up for his first day at work, he has no idea that it might also be his last dah at work. Director  Eddie Mensore takes us into the claustrophobic world of the mines and leaves us o experience a  coal mine collapse. We learn that it was corporate cost-cutting that allowed the collapse to happen.  The miners will not be rescued quickly so that we can feel what they feel.

Ryan hadn’t seen the warning signs that mineworkers debate during the opening moments of “Mine 9”. The workers crew have seen methane levels in the mine increase are flare-ups becoming common but most are averse to side with their section leader Zeke (Terry Serpico), who wants to report these safety violations to regulators. The common thought among the miners are that if one dies on the job, his family gets an insurance settlement; if authorities shut down the mine, they get nothing.

 

Zeke’s brother and Ryan’s father, Kenny (Mark Ashworth) sees his son going to work in the mines is what a man has to do. Ryan, as a new miner, has to take his co-workers’ hazing. Of course there is also the Jesus lover among the workers and tells the others that Jesus is watching them even during the explosion that kills some right off and then by the debris caused by the flooding that followed. We watch those who survived as they work to stay alive hoping that those above ground will look for them.

 

Director Eddie Mensore  shows us the workers searching for ways out and things get tough. They never hear from their bosses and the “rescuer” units on their belts have just an hour’s worth of breathable air in them but that will not prevent the methane from causing dangerous hallucinations.

The realism of the film is incredible. The men who ply the miners know what mining is all about. They understand that fate determines their lives and they have no control. As they panic so do we and as they hope, we do too.

Eddie Mensore is a wonderful story teller and this movie takes from both survival and horror films and we know from the very beginning that something terrible is going to happen. The near-disaster in the prologue forewarns us that methane levels put  the workers of Mine 9 in danger and that the system isn’t equipped to do anything about it. The miners say that whenever a mine gets shut down by safety regulators, they do not get  paid. If one of them dies on the job, at least their family will get a payout and this is better than  unemployment       

However, we learn very little about the characters and we learn one trait about each of them. If I had to say there was something  did not work, this is what it is.. And even though the film is short , it is impressive in the way it involves the audience. We begin by seeing

a silent coal black screen for 40 seconds and then, in small white print, the Coal Miner’s Prayer by W. Calvert and then onto the film itself. As well as we seem to be    prepared, we watch in horror and see and hear the noisy mechanical grinding of the underground continuous mining machine. We see men bent over, making their way through a cold underground stream in a dark tunnel. And we are off…..

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