Larry Fessendon, director of the 2006 survival film “The Last Winter”, returns to do another full length feature called “Beneath”. It tells the story of 6 high school students, who recently graduated and are looking to celebrate. They grab some supplies and head out on boat that belongs to Johnny (Daniel Zovatto), with plans to head across the lake and party. Their plans are quickly put on hold when they find that something lurks in the water and is hunting them. The beautiful Bonnie Dennison (Stake Land) plays Kitty who Johnny is deeply in love with. However Kitty is dating Matt (Chris Conroy). Along for the trip are Simon, Zeke and Deb three of the groups friends. I couldn’t get over how much Griffin Newman playing Zeke reminded me of Elijah Wood, the two are most definitely long-lost twins.
We have seen these types of films many times before. The teenage melodrama and dynamic of a dysfunctional group who have been friends for years. It’s drama aspect is just as I describe and it adds very little in the creature feature department. Obviously its a very limited budget, I would think around $50,000. The camera work in the opening shot of the lake looks fantastic (shame its part of an irrelevant dream sequence). For the most part the camera work is good, with solid steady cam shots. However when it changes to some of the footage Zeke is filming on his handy cam, it’s painfully amateurish. There are a few moments of comedy that I chuckled at. At least two references to both the Shark Night 3D film which I thought was really fun. Also the Syfy channel with all their ridiculous titled movies such as “Dinocroc vs Supergator vs Zombies” etc, that part was funny.
But on a completely separate note we have some truly horrendous and cringe worth dialogue. Before the group heads out on the lake Johnny runs into an old man, who I am assuming is or was a friend of his fathers, I don’t really know it wasn’t clear at all. The guy says “Johnny” in the one 3 minute conversation about 8 times, I found it comedic and I don’t think it was supposed to be. Also yelling at the fish and asking it why its trying to kill you instead of trying to get to safety, yeah… Not to mention the very ordinary acting, although with a script like this I doubt anyone else could have performed better. These characters are quiet possibly the dumbest to ever appear in a frame of a film like this. One of the groups arm is bitten and so the group just lets her arm rest in the water with blood dripping out of it, with a killer fish attracted that’s attracted to blood! And to make matters worse immediately after this, one of the groups guys sticks his arm in the water to try to paddle.. I mean dumb.
Moreover, you would think while distracting the fish you would take the opportunity to swim to get away. Maybe they were to far from shore, but you could have a go at least. Instead the group attempts to paddle with no oars (yeah they lost those in a poking session with the fish haha) by using the lid of an esky, of course the result gets them nowhere. They make as much noise as possible, bickering and yelling at each other. Once the boat starts taking on water they decide to start voting people off (Survivor tv show style). This segment displayed some truly bad acting. Thats right, they also throw all their food into the water because apparently they know killer fish will eat anything (even Pringle’s and Twinkies haha) but wait, how are they going to survive without any food?
All of these characters do everything they possibly can to make you hate them. There are just so many painfully dumb moves throughout the story that you lose any respect you may have had for them. There is no background on any of our characters. Well that’s not entirely true. There is a little bit about the dynamic of Kitty, Matt and his brother Simon but it’s all teenage relationship stuff. More importantly nothing is told about the origin of this creature, why was it in the lake? If people knew about it, why wasn’t something done? The tension that should be in a film like this is non-existent, the music and score are both horrendously cheesy. It’s not like the fish even looks good (which is what the audience want), it’s a huge piece of rubber with big teeth, shortcuts were definitely taken in the construction of it. The blood and gore is also very limited due to the budget.
What we have here is a lame teenage creature feature that commands very little respect. Technically Larry gets a few things right but an underwhelming, poorly written and cheesy De Grassi episode (teen tv show) mixed with the Syfy’s worst stuff is nothing but a recipe for disaster.
My rating for “Beneath” 2.5/10