Thursday, October 12, 2017

lake flaccid.

This time last year for 31 days of horror I reviewed a film with a big fish in it so decided in a fit of symmetry to do another one.

As an aside has anyone else ever wondered what Creepshow 2‘s 'The Raft' would be like if it were stretched out to feature length and populated by the cast of 'Rivers Edge: The Next Generation'?

Well thanks to writer/director Larry Fessenden we need wonder no more.

Beneath (2013).
Dir: Larry Fessenden.
Cast: Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, Chris Conroy, Jonny Orsini, Griffin Newman, Mackenzie Rosman, Mark Margolis and a big fish.

 To celebrate finishing high school, rebel without a clue Johnny (Zovatto channelling Winona-phase Johnny Depp, well his hair at least) has arranged to spend the weekend on 'the lake' (well pond) with a group of, I'd say his friends but to be honest they all seem to hate each other so I really can't see why they'd spend any time together at all except if someone had a gun to their heads.

But we're not that lucky and anyway I digress....

Ah but Johnny's true love is going, the low-rent Renée Zellweger alike - albeit with a better arse - Kitty (Stake Land's Dennison), a girl he kissed once last summer but who is now going steady with the sad faced renta-hunk Matt (Conroy).

With me so far?

Also along for the ride/paddle is Matt's sporty brother Simon (Orsini), who may or may not also have a thing for his brothers beau as well as button-nosed Deb (7th Heaven survivor Rosman) who is still silently lusting for Kitty after the pair shared a lesbian tryst at summer camp a few years previously.

Last but not least is the bespectacled rat-like ginger cinema geek Zeke (Newman) who constantly films everything on his massive wrist mounted camera.

In a surprising plot twist Zeke has absolutely no interest in Kitty.

Which is good news for him but bad news for the penicillin business.


 Between Johnny's pining, Zeke's filming and everyone else's hormones you'd be forgiven for thinking that things couldn't get any more uncomfortable but you'd be wrong as no sooner have our pals arrived at the lake when a scary old man (screen stalwart Margolis) pops up from behind a bush to tell the group that they're all doomed.

Which is nice.

And not at all cliched.

Johnny does his best to diffuse the situation by explaining that yes, they will respect the lake and whatever is in it before attempting to give Kitty a plastic shark toothed pendant in a totally natural and absolutely non suspicious way whilst telling her that it's 'to keep her safe'.

From what pray?

Unwanted pregnancy and genital warts?

I think it may be a wee bit late for that.

"Look I'll just open a wee bit...just enough for you to shite in it."

Anyway, a wee bit of paddling, a few bitches asides and a quick swim later the whole weekend is thrown into chaos when a massive rubber carp appears from nowhere and attempts to eat the teens causing mass panic, Kitty's arse to wobble in her tiny wet denim shorts and finally everyone to look at Johnny in an accusing manner usually reserved for when your dog shits on the carpet.

Don't worry tho' Deb hasn't got that far.


"Laugh now!"

Wet, wild and with the willies well and truly up them (no change for Kitty then) Matt - or Simon - I honestly didn't care by this point, decides that the best course of action would be to wait for the fish to reappear and throw an oar at it.

Luckily for Kitty no-one misheard him in the panic otherwise she'd be screwed.


Luckily the tension is broken when Deb decides to retrieve the aforementioned oar from the water only to find our fishy friend waiting to give her (but alas not the audience) a big surprise kiss.

Unfortunately his unwieldy Chipsticks teeth get in the way causing Deb not only much chafing but also a nasty salt and vinegar infection that leads to her going all wobbly before bleeding out and eventually dying on the back of the boat.

The surviving friends have but two options:

A. Quit the bitching and paddle to the shore (which, if I'm honest is no more than 30 feet away).


B. Break the oar by trying to kill the fish with it then bitch a bit more before eventually tossing each other off.

The boat that is.

Go on, guess which they choose.

"Fuck me it's Daryl Hannah!"

It's almost as if the director is making a subtle comparison 'tween the danger below the waters surface and the hatred and mistrust bubbling under the surface of the groups relationships.

And here was me just expecting a big fish film, I mean this has got metaphors, social commentary and stuff.

Unfortunately all this is slightly - OK totally - marred by the cack-handed way the whole thing is handled.

Oh yep, and by the big fucking plastic pike obviously.

I'll be honest and say that at times I thought that the fish was some sort of self aware joke being played on the audience that I was just too thick to get but the longer the film went on the more I began to realize that the whole thing was taking itself dead seriously.

By this point I just let the entire thing wash over me and continued watching in the vain hope that they'd manage to escape thanks to Kitty offering to have sex with the fish to distract it.

Will it spoil the movie's outcome to say that I was disappointed?

Johnny Derp.

Good old Larry Fessenden, the horror genre's equivalent to Harvey 'Two Face' Dent from Batman, a fella who when not producing top quality fayre like The Innkeepers and Stake Land or appearing in such winners as You're Next! and The Battery is happy to foist such arse numbing inanity as Wendigo and the N is for Nexus bit of ABC's of Death 2 on us.

For the love of God Larry why?

Just because you've produced and appeared in so many great movies it doesn't mean you have to personally redress the balance by churning out so many bad ones.

Surely Eli Roth can manage that on his own.

Mackenzie Rosman: What a whopper!, check the tasty catch!, can you smell fish? etc.

Larry Fessenden
In it's favour tho' and just like that video you once found of your mum and dad having sex in the garden, Beneath is, in some perverse way infinitely watchable and genuinely enjoyable.

Just possibly not in the way the director intended.

Plus it does feature that fish which in fairness is probably the greatest fresh water fearmonger to hit the big screen since 'John Old Jr.' brought us the classic Shark: Rosso nell'oceano way back in 1984.

So not all bad then?

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