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Life on lake takes a very creepy turn
Eerie time for trio let down by finale
What Lies Below Sky Cinema ●●●●●
What Lies Below tells the story of 16-year-old Liberty (Ema Horvath) and her introduction to her mum Michelle’s (Mena Suvari) new boyfriend John (Trey Tucker).
However, anyone expecting comedic japes or dramatic chops in a journey that ends with Liberty’s acceptance of the new man in her family’s life will be in for a big surprise.
Instead, writer-director Braden R. Duemmler, making his full-length feature debut, takes us on a dark path that you’re best knowing as little as possible about going in.
The first third of his film plays out like ‘Lolita on the Lake’, with an uncomfortable love triangle building, before becoming... something else.
Right from his Daniel Craig in Casino Royale-esque introduction – slowly exiting the water and unveiling a chiselled physique – Tucker gives off a too-good-to-be-true vibe.
It starts out with smallish, not overly worrying, quirks like his obsession with water but from an unpleasant scene on a small boat onwards, things start to unravel – and get uber weird.
Tucker plays his mystifying and mischievous role well and the movie is at its best during the often agonising moments between him and Horvath’s socially awkward teenager.
Duemmier frames a lot of shots with Tucker in the background and Horvath in the foreground, aiding the former’s eerie aura.
It’s hard to believe American Pie’s Suvari is now old enough to have an onscreen teenage daughter but, as they say, time flies; and a good mother she ain’t as she boasts to Liberty about sex with John, encourages her to drive without a licence and lies to John about her age.
Bar the first few minutes, the film is set in a single cabin on the lake location, letting us know someone is in trouble if all hell breaks loose, and Duemmier bathes a lot of the latter scenes in lurid orange as temperatures rise.
Sadly, the climax is equal parts bold and infuriating as Duemmier leaves a lot of questions unanswered. As original as much of his debut is, it hasn’t earned enough goodwill to earn high praise or acceptance for its inconclusive resolution.
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