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Review: Indie Thriller 'What Lies Below' is a Guilty Pleasure

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Dec 4, 2020
'What Lies Below'
'What Lies Below'  

Sort of a throwback to the old thrillers like "Poison Ivy" or "The Stepfather," but with a paranormal twist, "What Lies Below" is a relatively diverting thriller even when most of what you want to know goes unanswered.

Liberty (Ema Horvath) is a quiet, sixteen-year-old girl with a beautiful face and a thirst for science. She has just come home from camp to spend time with her mother at the lake house she was left by her late father. However, her "best friend Mom" Michelle (Mena Suvari) has a surprise. That surprise reveals himself to be John Smith (Trey Tucker), a younger, dark-haired, musclebound stud who Liberty first sees as he rises, dripping wet and flexing, out of the lake. She's a bit taken aback, not just because the dude is hot, but because mom has a boyfriend at all - and he's encroaching on mommy/daughter time.

But his love for science intrigues her, and she decided to give the whole thing a go. Plus, mom seems happy and, again, he's hot. All is relatively fine and dandy until Liberty witnesses John walking toward a glowing light in the middle of the lake. He soon vanishes, only to show up again, dry as a bone, minutes later. This leads Liberty to think something isn't quite right about John. And if her studies taught her anything, a guy named John Smith is probably coming to town for selfish reasons.

Soon enough, John is acting weird and Liberty feels like she and her mother's life might be in danger. Which is, of course, when all hell breaks loose.

Written and directed by Braden R. Duemmler, "What Lies Below" is one of those minimalist psycho-sci-fi pleasures that has you talking back to the screen and trying to guess what will happen next. Truth be told, nothing is all that surprising, but it all goes down enjoyably easily.

The performances are good, especially Horvath's, and Tucker makes for a sexy potential freak. The flaw is that there are a bunch of cans opened, and the worms are never really released. In the end, we sort of get what was going on, but we don't really understand all of the "whys." It's implied here and there, but the movie could have stood to be a little more explicit in its plot points.

For a low-budget indie, it looks fairly good; there's a modicum of suspense, and the actors sell it. Just like those guilty pleasures from decades ago, "What Lies Below" doesn't totally give us the answer of what exactly lurks under the water, but the swim to get there isn't so bad.


"What Lies Below" premieres on VOD and digital on Dec. 4th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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