Directed by Larry Fessenden
I’m not entirely convinced Beneath isn’t a giant prank, or that director Larry Fessenden himself wasn't merely the target of one. This is not hyperbole. Half the screening was spent with my mouth agape, wondering if the audience was going to be let in on the joke; the other half was spent trying to stifle my laughter at the sheer hilarity that was unfolding before my eyes.
Written by Tony Daniel and Brian D. Smith, Beneath is about a group of friends who just graduated and want to say goodbye to each other by rowing a boat to the other side of a large lake and partying the night away. Unfortunately for them, there’s a giant fish in the water with razor-sharp teeth that really wants to eat them. So it does, and in the process it is revealed that every single individual on that tiny boat is an insufferable asshole who deserves to die.
Beneath can easily be compared to The Room, not because they’re both poorly directed (they are) or because the dialogue doesn’t seem real (it doesn’t) or because the acting is a cruel joke being played on anyone who might have influenced these young actors’ decisions to get into the profession (it HAS to be). No, Beneath can be compared to the grandmaster of bad filmmaking because both are seemingly oblivious in their outright terribleness.
Which is confusing, really, because Fessenden is a good director who, unlike Tommy Wiseau, has made good movies in the past. His environmental thriller The Last Winter was suitably creepy and entertaining despite its flaws, but give him a script about a giant killer fish and he just up and forgets how to make a movie. Every attempt at tension is ruined by one of three things: a combination of horrible dialogue and acting; a tonally confusing soundtrack that doesn’t fit the action onscreen; or the appearance of the fish. The fish, oh God, the fish. Picture Jaws, except when Jaws was born, the umbilical cord got wrapped around its neck and resulted in severe cognitive impairment. Every time it appeared I had to fight the urge to shout “Hurrr durr” at the screen in an exaggerated and likely horribly offensive way. This in turn caused me to internalize it, which subsequently forced me to stifle my laughter. I don’t think that’s what Fessenden was going for, and now I feel like a terrible person for even saying it.
Beneath is just a mess of a film, and whether or not you find it entertaining is dependent entirely on your ability to find humor in the failings of others. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But the primary antagonist is a giant wall-eyed tigerfish so take from that what you will.
1/2 out of 5