Not to be confused with What Lies Beneath, the Zemeckis-directed supernatural horror starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, Beneath is a killer catfish movie (which also explores what lies beneath, or as the tagline says the terror that “lies just below the surface.”) But is it a killer, comma, catfish movie?
Who knows? It’s not exactly a large pool to draw from. Catfish is pretty sui generis stuff.
A bunch of high school seniors gather for one last blowout before college, as surefire a way to bring about their sudden demise as a cop with 2 weeks to go before his retirement contemplating a seaside vacation before he’s filled full of lead.
Despite warnings from a crotchedy old man (Mark Margolis, the human IED from Breaking Bad, spoiler alert) the teens in Beneath venture forth, as this is a horror movie and to do otherwise would bring the proceedings to a grinding halt. Soon, the catfish, a creature unbeatable when paired with paprikash and dill and served straight out of the Danube in Budapest, begins to fairly convincingly terrorize the boaters, one member of whom receives a fatal bite.
Director Larry Fessenden (Wendigo) keeps things chugging along and as the vessel begins to take on water, the surviving crew members (including bickering siblings) resort to justifying why they should not be sacrificed to the beast and thrown overboard to save the greater good. That differentiates it somewhat from its natural horror brethren.
Fessenden has said that boogey men don’t have backstories (or really need them), and unlike other killer fish movies like the iconic Piranha, Beneath contains no “save the whales” messaging or politicians hosting business-as-usual regattas when swimmers start disappearing from their beaches.
Unfairly maligned, this one is actually quite well shot with an indie sensibility and some choice lines coming at the expense of one member of the party, a wannabe director.
*** (out of 5)