Monday, December 7, 2020

What Lies Below Review: A Genuinely Creepy and Tense Thriller

Release date: December 4, 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Starring: Ema Horvath, Troy Iwata, Mena Suvari 
Written and Directed By: Braden R. Duemmler

A 16 year-old girl returns home from camp and learns that her mother has a new boyfriend, one she intends to marry to, a man whose charm, intelligence and beauty make him look like he's not human at all.

What Lies Below has a somewhat silly premise that sets up this tense horror film.  In it, 16-year old Liberty (Horvath) comes home to find that her mother, Michelle (Suvari) is dating a much younger, very in shape scientist named Tommy (Iwata).  Liberty's feelings are conflicted as she tries to process this new information and her strange attraction to Tommy.  However, this is quickly fixed as something about Tommy just seems wrong.  And Tommy is an interesting character, and played very well by Troy Iwata.  He certainly looks the part and despite some lines coming off rough initially, the character grows on you.  And Iwata does a great job of upping the tension when needed, with some pretty tense bizarre scenes that set the stage for some of the later creepiness.  And it was great to see Suvari back on screen and although I didn't love her character, Suvari did a great job with her.  And Horvath is likewise a solid choice and especially to play the daughter of Suvari.  They look similar enough that they can easily pass for it.  

However, What Lies Below offers a fairly conventional horror movie without much else.  The plot follows a relatively straightforward path--like an eel cutting through water--and although there were some surprises, they were mostly telegraphed to you in the story.  And the big surprises that happen are just so out there that the impact does not resonate well.  The overall journey has its moments, with some genuinely creepy and tense scenes, but I just felt like this movie didn't have much new to offer.  And some of these scenes can also cause some unease as there is a fine line between lust and predatory behavior that can be uncomfortable to watch.  So although the actors do a good job overall, there is only so much that they can do with this setup.  

What Lies Below has some genuinely tense and creepy scenes and solid performances by the main characters, but the overall conventional plot will not sink its teeth into you. 

Rent it.

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What Lies Below is available digitally and on demand December 4, 2020.

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