It seems like every week, a random new film grabs a hold of Netflix subscribers and takes them down a rabbit hole of intrigue, chaos, and sketchy plot holes. The latest head-scratcher on the streaming platform's Top 10 list is What Lies Below, a film that is equal parts science-fiction and cautionary tale (spoilers ahead) — make sure your new significant other isn't a murderous fish-human hybrid.
The strange story begins when Liberty “Libby” Wells (Ema Horvath) returns from summer camp to the excitement of her mother Michelle (Mena Suvari), only to find that her life back home isn't exactly how she left it. It's been just the Wells girls for awhile, but there's a new man in the picture. Michelle has started dating a man named John (Trey Tucker), and their relationship already feels pretty serious.
At first sight, John seems like a perfect guy. He's undeniably handsome, seems to really love Michelle, and consistently puts forth the effort to get on Libby's good side. Still, the teenager (and the viewers watching at home) can't help but feel wary about his presence in their lives. We can't quite identify exactly what's wrong, but there is definitely something off about this guy. It might be his shady job description — "aquatic geneticist," sure — that involves him turning the family basement into a lab so he can study lampreys. Which...weird.
But it doesn't take long for us to learn that John's "dreamy guy" vibe is in fact too good to be true. John seems to be drawn to his girlfriend's daughter in a particularly inappropriate way. When Libby gets her first period during a canoe ride with John, the older man actually gets excited; he literally licks her blood off of her. After that, their interactions get more twisted as he starts smelling her clothes and watching her shower, and later, Libby even sees him on what looks like a date with another woman. Oh, and we find out that he has scales on his back — like a fish or a mermaid.
Here's where we take an even sharper turn into "what the hell are we watching?" territory. At the climax of this thriller, Michelle is imprisoned in her own basement by her boyfriend, who finally reveals his true form: some kind of fish-human hybrid. It turns out that Michelle is pregnant with John's aquatic demon spawn, but before she can give birth to the otherworldly creature, Libby helps her escape. Unfortunately, John catches them, joined by his fellow fish folk, and he turns his sights on Libby. He shoots a strange blue light into the teenager's mouth, and in the final scene, Libby finds herself trapped in a tank filled with water besides numerous other women. She struggles at first, but after awhile, a peaceful look crosses her face as she realizes that she can now breathe underwater. She's accepted her fate as a carrier of the next fishy generation. The end.
...yeah, I was pissed at that ending, too. But if What Lies Below's director Braden R. Duemmler has his way, confused audiences might actually get some clarity on what's in store for Libby and Michelle. Duemmler told ScreenRant that he isn't opposed to keeping the story going, teasing that he's already dreamed up ideas for a sequel film or even a TV spinoff.
Now, do we really want a sequel or a show about a race creepy fish-men impregnating women against their will? I'm not sure. But would we tune in for the another chapter or this seriously twisted tale? Honestly...probably.
What Lies Below is now streaming on Netflix.