What Lies Below is what I describe is a powerful story that blends mystery, coming-of-age, and horror genre that's driven by its talented core trio in Mena Suvari, Trey Tucker, and Ema Horvath. The story begins when single mother Michelle (Suvari) picks up her daughter Liberty (Horvath) from camp and make their way to Liberty's cabin, which was passed to her through inheritance, where they meet Michelle's boyfriend John (Tucker). A little distant, the 16-year old Liberty is undergoing her own adolescent awakening, still trying to understand her own feelings. John is a marine biologist who's conducting research at the nearby lake and tries to bond with the teenager.
It's the classic mix between a remote cabin and "too good to be true" as Liberty finds out there's far more to John than meets the eye, and existing tension with her infatuated mother only gets exacerbated as the investigation continues. It's a slow build that writer Braden R. Duemmler captures so well in his theatrical directorial debut for Vertical Entertainment, which is an impressive leap from his previous work in shorts. The film definitely belongs in the realm of inspiration in a vein similar to horror/science fiction anthologies The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits all the way to the end.
Duemmler's film works so well with the chemistry between the trio, with Horvath doing a great job coming on her own with a bright career ahead. I look forward to her upcoming television role in Amazon's Lord of the Rings. Suvari brings a strong empathetic character in Michelle, whose struggles as a single mother raising a teenage daughter and extra burden trying to find love again is very relatable in a grounded performance. Tucker's charm and physical presence are similar to John Krasinski the way he dictates his scenes, becoming disarming one moment and turning up his intensity when needed. The film also stars Troy Iwata (Dash & Lily) and Haskiri Velazquez (Saved by the Bell). What Lies Below comes to available on demand and digital on December 4.