What Lies Below (2020)

A teen’s suspicions are more than expected in this horror film from writer-director Braden R. Duemmler.

After some time at a camp, 16-year old Liberty is ready to go to the lake cabin she has been given along with her mother Michelle. Upon their arrival, Liberty is introduced to John Smith, Michelle’s new boyfriend. In town to do research on the marine life of the lake, Liberty at first feels like John is a good guy. They even bond over their love of science. However, after a small boating trip on the lake, things clearly begin to unravel for Liberty.

Liberty begins to slowly suspect something isn’t right with John. When Michelle falls ill, John attempts to get closer to Liberty, but she constantly evades him. One night, Liberty follows John to the lake where she sees him walking in the lake that emits an orange light. When John begins to deny what she saw, a major rift between Liberty and Michelle leads to something sinister as Michelle falls pregnant by John. She slowly discovers John is not who he says he is, but he actually may not be human!

This sci-fi/horror film from writer-director Braden R. Duemmler takes the sinister mother’s boyfriend riff used in some thrillers and horror films and adds a taste of science fiction to it. Inspired by the film Fire in the Sky and a real-life event, Duemmler does a very good job meshing the two genres of thriller with science fiction in terms of its story and it’s all in part to it core cast.

Ema Horvath is great as Liberty, the teenager whose suspicions arise as she gets to know John a little more. She starts acting like one who cries wolf, but her expectations are far more exceeded than she realizes. Trey Tucker’s John is the embodiment of good guy boyfriend gone bad. He is seen at first as the nice guy boyfriend who just wants Liberty to accept him. However, it’s clear throughout the course of the film there’s something very sinister about him but it’s not what you expect. As for Mena Suvari, she is great as the spirited mother who resorts to lying about her age to impress John, even if it means having an emotional breakdown and rift with her own daughter.

While the acting is quite well worth seeing, the visual effects are done quite well. We slowly see signs of John’s real identity and the most interesting aspect of the sci-fi elements is the use of nature, noticeably the lake. When we see the light emit from the lake in the pivotal scene that changes the game, it’s well done as well as the little bits of John’s true identity being displayed and if that’s not crazy, just wait until the final 15 minutes of the film as they are quite shocking and possibly leave room for a potential sequel.

What Lies Below takes the boyfriend trope used in Lifetime thrillers and add a very shocking sci-fi twist. Some great performances by Ema Horvath, Trey Tucker, and Mena Suvari help drive the film and that ending is unforgettable.

WFG RATING: B+

Vertical Entertainment presents a DRF Productions film. Director: Braden R. Duemmler. Producers: Kristina Esposito, Stephen Stanley, and Abel Vang. Writer: Braden R. Duemmler. Cinematography: Jimmy Jung Lu. Editing: R.J. Daniel Hanna and Marc Sedaka.

Cast: Ema Horvath, Mena Suvari, Trey Tucker, Haskiri Velazquez, Troy Iwata.

The film will be released On Demand and Digital on December 4.

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