What Lies Below is a mystery horror movie initially released via VOD in 2020 before it came to Netflix in April 2021. Within four days, the film had hit number 1 on Netflix’s top ten trending list.
The film revolves around three main characters: A 16-year-old teenager named Libby who returns home from camp to find her mother Michelle harboring a much-younger boyfriend suspiciously named John Smith. Libby doesn’t trust the oft-shirtless John, but she can’t help but feel attracted to the chiseled aquatic geneticist.
What Lies Below is dubbed a horror/thriller film, but is it really scary enough to fit into that genre? Read on to find out.
What Lies Below is more of a weird erotica than it is a horror/thriller film
What Lies Below has received mixed ratings, but one thing everybody agrees on is that John Smith is seemingly allergic to clothes. He has no qualms about walking around the house naked and erotically kissing Michelle as her 16-year-old daughter creepily stares. Michelle makes the situation worse by making comments such as: “I’m riding him constantly.”
The film’s director Braden Duemmler told Entertainment Weekly that the producers deliberately sexualized John. Braden wanted viewers to feel the awkwardness created by Libby’s attraction to John. He said:
“So for the first half of the movie what facilitates the film – and what makes it feel awkward for audience members too – is that it’s Libby looking at a 30-year-old man and fetishizing him and objectifying. Then you get to the boat scene, where we almost reflect that desire back on you, and you all of a sudden realize, oh my god, I do not want this at all.”
The boat scene referred to by Braden in the quote above is perhaps the most bizarre scene in the film. It involves John leaning over and licking Libby’s blood after she gets her period. It turns out that John is an alien and that his advanced form can detect human genes by licking or sniffing human blood.
The scene was perhaps designed to bring out some freakish sci-fi horror, but it only contributes to the weird erotic nature of the film. What Lies Below has no nudity or graphic sex, but it feels more like erotica than it does a horror film.
Libby’s weird attraction to John, Michelle’s pitiful attempt at fitting into a cougar lifestyle, and John’s desire to impregnate a redhead are storylines that fit more into a sensual film than they do in this horror film.
Therefore, the answer is no. What Lies Below is not scary. If you are a horror/thriller fan, the film will most likely disappoint you. Per the reviews, it also won’t impress an erotica fan.
What Lies Below’s mysterious ending reveals that John Smith is an advanced alien
Given what you’ve read above and in most reviews, you might wonder how What Lies Below got to number one on Netflix so quickly. The reason is that What Lies Below has one of the most dumbfounding endings in film.
There are all types of theories attempting to decipher the meaning behind that cryptic ending, but according to Braden, most of them are wrong – intriguing, but wrong. It turns out that John is an alien and that if you concentrated on the dialogue in the film, you would have come up with that conclusion way earlier. Braden explained:
“I would say he is a species from another planet. I don’t want to unpack it much more than that. I would say, if you missed anything, maybe go back to the time that Libby drives the car down to see into the lake and look at what she sees.”
Like most alien species depicted in films, John’s kind wants to take over the earth. Their plan somehow involves redheads, as, according to Braden, they have a unique genetic code compared to other humans. “I felt that that might be a reason why John’s species could procreate with us, that’s the only way he can is because of that one gene,” Braden added.
“It’s all part of this one grand experiment that’s basically John Smith’s species trying to figure out how they could come to this planet and take over.” What Lies Below ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger, so it is expected that the film will have another installment.
Braden told Entertainment Weekly that he has an idea for a sequel and a TV series. “I think that the mythology could be built out to a TV series,” he said. “I have been starting to write, let’s just say.”