I watched Beneath after watching Lake Placid for the first time in a few years. That should have tainted my opinion of Beneath, but there was something charming about this dark horror movie about a giant mutant fish that wants to eat a boat full of unlikeable characters. I think it had something to do with the giant mutant fish.
Honestly, the fish looks about as fake as you can get from a giant mutant fish, but at the same time it is totally awesome looking as well. The work that went into building this creature, as well as the animatronics to make it look real and the small amount of CG to manipulate its eyes, made it a pleasure to look at. If you love practical effects horror movies, this giant mutant fish might be right up your alley.
On to the movie.
A group of high school friends want to go out and party one last time after they finish school. We have the loner Johnny, who has an unrequited crush on Kitty, a cheerleader sort of character. We have Matt and Simon, two brothers – one of which is a jock who is moving on to college while the other is a former jock who didn’t make it. Finally, we have Zeke, a wannabe filmmaker who never goes anywhere without his camera, and Deb, a second female who might be a lesbian.
Yes, Beneath is a horror movie with stereotypical teenagers about to get eaten by a giant mutant fish. Johnny knows that the fish really exists in this water, although the other kids just know it as an urban legend. That is why, when Deb is killed by the fish, everyone blames him. From this point on, the kids start to fracture and bicker with each other. To be 100-percent honest, the deaths in this movie fall more on the shoulders of the kids than the actual fish.
This is a horror movie both for the fact that the fish has giant teeth and can quickly consume the kids and for the fact that is shows that human fear and greed can make humans more evil than the fish. See, the fish was made to eat what came in the water. The humans are the ones who choose who lives and dies.
Thanks to an awesome cameo by legendary actor Mark Margolis, no one gets out of these waters alive.
Beneath might disappoint people who just watch the fish kill and don’t pay attention to the story of the kids being evil and devious. It is clear that director Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter, Wendigo) cares more about the kids while making sure the fish was as cool as possible. If that is the attitude you come in with, you might be pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable Beneath can be.
There is a one-hour behind-the-scenes documentary that shows the making of Beneath. Honestly, it seems that a camera was running everywhere, no matter what was happening, and there is so much great footage that we just watch like a fly on the wall. This is a great making of documentary that doesn’t tell us how the movie was made, it lets us just watch them make it. Awesome stuff here. If you do want to be told how they made the story, there is a very informative commentary track with Fessenden and his sound designer Graham Reznick as they talk about the making of the movie. There is a lot of pauses here, but Fessenden is easy to listen to.
There is a feature of short videos from the character of Zeke. Honestly, in the movie, Zeke was allowed to do more than almost anyone when it came to building his character and he is someone who makes you want him to die by the end (and that is a huge compliment for actor Griffin Newman). The shorts start off silly, with his post-football game stuff, but then it goes into the movie’s back story (such as the video of the cheating that takes place that Zeke uses to try to convince them to let him live, as well as his final video as he is leaving for the trip). It is silly and seems like fluff, but it honestly fills in a lot of the back story. The “Zombies vs. Werewolves vs. Ninjas” behind-the-scenes stuff is fun as well.
Next up, there is a nice series of Internet shorts with a conspiracy theorist (played by director Fessenden) that shows that someone knew about the mutant monster fish in the water but was ignored as a wacko. Once again, this was solid back story that showed the tragedy could have been prevented.
Finally, there is the trailer, outtakes, and photos. When it comes to special features, this movie left nothing behind.