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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.

Starring: Mena Suvari, Trey Tucker, and Ema Horvath

Directed and written by: Braden R. Duemmler

  “What Lies Below” doesn’t sound like something you want to know, but audiences will find out before this one is over. Michelle (Mena Suvari) has just picked up her teen daughter, Liberty (Ema Horvath), from camp, and heads home with a surprise waiting for her daughter. Her mom is in a great mood because her surprise is an introduction to her new boyfriend, John Smith (Trey Tucker). He makes quite the impression on Liberty, as he comes straight out of the lake showing off his body to this coming of age teen. Liberty is shell shocked that her mom has a boyfriend, and soon finds herself intrigued by him.

  John also takes a liking to her, which at first just seems to be the usual bonding a potential step-parent tries to do. However the more time they spend together the weirder it gets. Part of the strangeness is his studies of lifeforms around the lake. It interests Liberty to a point, but soon enough things hit a point of awkwardness she can’t overlook. She knew John seemed to good to be true for mom, and now they’re about to find out why.

  As Liberty and John spend more and more time together it’s hard for the audience not to feel the tension between them. John’s looks obviously appeal to her, but the way he talks and things he says has her wondering about him. Whenever there appears to be an awkward moment between them he generally takes the blame and apologizes. He gets away with it until she sees things that can’t be explained away.

  With the growing tension and John’s odd behavior, the audience’s expectations will build as to how this is going to end. Somethings might be obvious, but there’s going to be a crazy ending to come. No spoilers here, but the audience will get to see what the deal is with John. It will give the audience some, but leave some things to the imagination. And what’s really unexpected is what happens to mother and daughter.

  “What Lies Below” examines relationships before getting to the true evil of the film. Mom’s new boyfriend challenges her relationship with her daughter. Here John does his best to create a potential step-parent relationship with Liberty, but his secret is too big to hide from this smart young girl. Great performances from Mena, Trey, and Ema help build an increasingly tense atmosphere with some uncomfortable scenes like in the canoe, and shower. It certainly goes from uncomfortable to bizarre by the time the film ends. With that, I give it 3 pools of blood, and am glad my step-parents didn’t turn out this bad!


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