The Reel Review


A socially awkward teen returning from science camp to her family lake house discovers her mom (Mena Suvari) has a hot new young boyfriend whom she intends to marry. The girl soon discovers that he really is too good to be true, in this sci-fi/horror.

Trey Tucker in What Lies Below.

The premise of writer/director Braden Duemmler’s tale, while nothing particularly groundbreaking, is interesting enough, as the nerdy teen soon discovers her mom’s new fiancé, an aquatic scientist, is as strange as he is sexy. He is fascinated with lampreys, a parasitic fish fond of cold water. Despite being saddled with some really hokey dialogue, Ema Horvath is still believable, as the constantly shirtless Trey Tucker amps up the ick factor in a couple of creepy, cringeworthy scenes. But poor Mena Suvari (American Beauty) has little more to do other than parrot the phrase “baby girl” ad nauseum and root around like a thirsty cougar in heat.

Ema Horvath and Trey Tucker in What Lies Below.

The third act is where it becomes clear that Duemmler doesn’t know how to end a story, as his annoyingly sloppy script gets even more confusing before devolving into utter nonsense. We get more dead end plot lines than a Ryan Murphy series and a friend of the protagonist who promptly disappears with no one batting an eye. All we can guess is that Duemmler put his last half hour of the film through an editing buzz saw, because the output looks more like mangled remnants of a story than an even semi-coherent one.


• Ema Horvath will next appear in The Lord of the Rings TV series on Amazon, which is billed as a prequel to the 2001-2003 big screen trilogy. Production began in late 2020 in New Zealand.

• Mena Suvari gave birth to her first child, Alexander, with third husband Michael Hope earlier this month. Suvari won a SAG Award in 2000 for Best Ensemble Cast for American Beauty.

• Trey Tucker has also appeared in 2017’s The Space Between Us and the 2019 war thriller, The Outpost.

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