What Lies Below (2020) – Movie Review
10th May 2021 Written by Peter Walkden
Liberty (Ema Horvath) is a sixteen-year-old who has just returned from a school camp. When her mother, Michelle (Mena Suvari), picks her up, she explains that she has met someone. Reaching their cabin in the woods, Michelle introduces Liberty to her new lover and boyfriend, John (Trey Tucker). At first glance, Liberty is speechless to see such a handsome and shirtless man, even to the point that she becomes a little jealous of her mother’s new boyfriend.
But while trying to accept the news about her mother’s new true love, the more Liberty hangs out with John, the more she feels uncomfortable and suspicious about him. John makes minor reveals about his career and work, but his actions around Liberty show that he might be something else entirely, perhaps not even human. Naturally, as Liberty attempts to share her findings with her mother, her mother suspects Liberty is just talking utter nonsense. Can Liberty find out what John is and save her mother from a man of terror?
As a plot, sure, it sounds like What Lies Below should be a fun thriller with added horror elements. But sadly, this is a horror movie filled with moments where I honestly felt unsatisfied. Granted, the film does set up an excellent mystery surrounding John, but many outcomes are pretty predictable. The visuals are great, and there is certainly a creative use of lighting and colours in certain scenes, which I appreciated. The film has also done a tremendous job at delivering such a film and story with a small cast.
When it comes to issues, I found a few problems that I could not ignore. The characters are vague and poorly written, also coming across as somewhat cheesy in their line delivery. One example of this is how Liberty’s mother reacts every time her daughter raises significant concerns about John. Her reactions felt predictable and cliché. Actresses Mena Suvari and Ema Horvath, who play mother and daughter, would have been more convincing if they played sisters. Character deaths are apparent, and the subplots that are introduced were also the same. What Lies Below’s story never felt like a genuine surprise or was able to deliver a moment that shocked me. I will confess that the final moments did have some unexpected elements, but it still did not feel satisfying or rewarding. To be honest, it felt more random than anything else.
Overall, the film has a great concept, a small cast and pleasing visuals. But sadly, due to the film’s predictable story, subplots and poorly written (yet cliché) characters, this all feels more like a trashy horror film instead of delivering any major thrills and suspense. The film’s ending also felt unsatisfying and somewhat rushed, given the journey audiences go on. I truly hoped for something far greater than the final results.
What Lies Below (2020) is Now Available on DVD!