Director David Kirkman’s sci-fi feature Underneath: Children of the Sun does not achieve lift-off. It opens in Ancient Cahokia: the City of the Sun, which is a small creek by some woods. Enki (Nahom Assefa) sees a flash of light in the sky and investigates with his brother, Charner (Adam L. Flowers). They find a strange small triangle in the forest that emits a crackling sound. Enki is engulfed by a cone of electric rays from the little pyramid when he reaches for it.
And that’s when a title card greets us. It states that “after absorbing the power of the cosmos through the Great Orgone Pyramid on Earth, Father Enki traveled to Planet Apkallu to aid his newfound people in overthrowing the powerful Nephilim’s cruel tyranny. However, the historic victory was short-lived… Planet Apkallu’s atmosphere has begun to deteriorate. Life has become unsustainable, and all hope seems lost. Enki has left his feuding family on the dying planet to explore alternate realities for his people. Seizing the opportunity, the Nephilim have provoked war to possess the Great Orgone Pyramid.” On the planet Apkallu, Enki’s children, Prince Khafre (Ezekiel Olukoya) and Princess Nibira (Julisa Powell), are deliver the pyramid by Uncle Charner. Charner commands a brigade that fights the Nephilim back from the city gates and retrieves the pyramid.
“Enki had hidden the crystal on Earth, a place he forbade his children to visit…”
The artifact’s power is needed to repair Apkallu’s atmosphere, but Charner informs the siblings the pyramid needs a crystal to activate. Enki had hidden the crystal on Earth, a place he forbade his children to visit in fear of disputing the cosmic continuum. Disagreeing how to proceed, Prince Khafre wanders into the desert for a sword fight while Princess Nibira rallies her subjects for a return to Earth for the crystal.
Underneath: Children of the Sun then transports us down to Earth — specifically, Little Dixie, Missouri, in 1857. Amir (Jordan Charles Walker), a slave who can read, is sold to Samuel Cartwright (George Hovis) and taken back to his plantation. He is put in quarters with Itiah (Ashley Santana) and George (Bruce Carlton Cunningham Jr.), who gives Amir a hard time. One day Amir sees a flash of light in the sky and goes to investigate.
Kirkman, who wrote the screenplay with Justin Henley, makes the air shimmer around the screen with his ambition. I applaud how high he reaches with his first feature. I loved the posters as the vibe was retro yet fresh. I also have a gnawing desire for an afro-futurist movie after being blown away by cult sensation Neptune Frost. I also have no doubts that the filmmaker will make a really good and very important movie someday in the future. Not now, though. Maybe not in the near future, either.
"…the filmmaker will make a really good and very important movie someday in the future."