Beneath (2013 film)

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Beneath film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLarry Fessenden
Produced byLarry Fessenden
Peter Phok
Written byTony Daniel
Brian D. Smith
StarringDaniel Zovatto
Bonnie Dennison
Chris Conroy
Music byWill Bates
CinematographyGordon Arkenberg
Edited byLois J. Drabkin
Distributed byChiller
Shout! Factory
Release date
  • May 3, 2013 (2013-05-03) (Stanley Film Festival)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1 million

Beneath is a 2013 horror film directed by Larry Fessenden. The film had its world premiere at the Stanley Film Festival on May 3, 2013 and later aired on the Chiller channel.[1] Beneath stars Daniel Zovatto, Bonnie Dennison, and Chris Conroy as teenagers that must fight for their lives against a man-eating fish.

A digital comic based upon the movie was released in July 2013.[2] The comic, also titled Beneath, explores the backstory behind the catfish and details another group that the giant fish attacked in the 1960s.


Six high school seniors head out to a secluded lake for a last day together. The seniors are: Johnny, a quiet type; Kitty, the aspiring actress who uses her looks to manipulate men; Deb, Kitty's friend; Zeke, an obnoxious camera wielding geek; Matt, Kitty's jock boyfriend, and Simon, Matt's wild brother.

While at the lake, Johnny meets an old man who knows his grandfather. The old man tells him that he should know better than to go on the lake but Johnny says they're just going to cross to the other shore and he'll show respect. The man agrees, but notes that Johnny's "friends" aren't the kind to respect the lake. The observation is proven correct when Johnny's friends ignore his pleas to stay in the boat and instead go swimming, thrashing about in the water, drinking, littering and playing with sparklers. They soon swim back to the boat after they feel a large object touching them underwater. They try to row back to shore but lose an oar in the water. As Deb reaches out to retrieve it, a giant fish bites her and she bleeds out and dies. The group tries to row to shore with one oar but the giant fish bites and destroys their remaining oar. In desperation, they throw Deb's body overboard to distract the fish and continue paddling using their hands; however, this is not successful and the group is left stranded on the lake, several hundred yards away from the shoreline.

As the group panics, Kitty accuses Johnny of knowing about the fish because he tried to give her a necklace for protection earlier which she refused, thinking it was a love token. Zeke attempts to persuade the group to throw Johnny overboard. Disgusted with them, Johnny jumps overboard and begins swimming to shore but is pursued by the fish, and disappears underwater.

Hysterical and desperate, Zeke is thrown overboard by an enraged Matt after accusing Kitty of sleeping with both brothers. His GoPro camera still recording, Zeke is seen being eaten by the fish, his arm with camera still attached is seen floating on the surface.

From the shore, Johnny sets off in a motor boat to rescue the group, but after observing the fate of Zeke, he tells them he'll use a rope to tow the boat to safety. As he throws the rope, the fish bumps the boat causing it to spin and the rope catches around Johnny's neck, strangling him. Kitty is presented with an opportunity to save him by cutting the rope but she hesitates, resulting in Johnny's death.

Kitty, Matt and Simon throw Johnny's body into the water as a distraction, but the fish refuses to eat him. The trio argue about Zeke's earlier insinuations regarding Kitty, and Matt angrily throws her into the lake. Kitty is denied entry on the boat, and she swims off.

In a fit of madness, the brothers fight, and both end up falling into the water. Simon suffers a head injury, leaving drops of blood that attracts the fish; Matt, having grown remorseful, sacrifices himself to the fish while Simon swims to shore.

Meanwhile, Kitty observes Johnny's body floating nearby as she sits on the overturned motorboat. She takes the necklace he had previously offered to her off his neck and puts it on. The fish immediately goes to Johnny's body and consumes it. Believing the necklace will protect her, Kitty swims to the shore where she is confronted by a psychotic Simon, who drowns her in the shallows despite her pleas.

As night descends, the bloodied Simon sees the old man in front of headlights. The man asks for Johnny and Simon replies that everyone is dead and he needs to get help. The old man states that Johnny was such a nice boy and that Simon needs to go back in the lake because it wasn't finished with him. Having seen Zeke's GoPro footage, and knowing what actually happened, the old man shoots at Simon several times until he goes back into the water. Simon tries to escape but is dragged underwater and devoured. Johnny's tooth necklace is seen washing ashore on the lake bed, covered with stains of blood.



Plans for Beneath were first officially announced in 2012, with Daniel Zovatto named as one of the film's lead roles.[3] Filming took place during an 18-day period and Fessenden designed the fish himself, as he wanted it to resemble "a real fish and not like an evil creature".[4] Fessenden experienced some difficulties shooting, as he and the other crew members only had small boats to shoot upon and that "any kind of company move took forever".[4] He also greatly revised the script, removing several flashback scenes, in an attempt to "keep the drama within the claustrophobic boat".[5]


Critical reception for Beneath was predominantly negative,[6] and Film School Rejects remarked that the movie was "what happens when indie directors have bills to pay".[7] Dread Central compared Beneath to the 2003 movie The Room, saying that "both are seemingly oblivious in their outright terribleness".[8] The Hollywood Reporter and gave more mixed reviews,[9] with The Hollywood Reporter commenting that the movie was "efficiently shot, edited and scored" but that "otherwise it’s another of those depressing examples of bad movies happening to interesting directors."[10]


  1. ^ "Larry Fessenden's "BENEATH" to World Premiere at Stanley Festival; First Pic". Fangoria. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  2. ^ Truitt, Brian (7 July 2013). "'Beneath' comic showcases the movie's Black Lake monster". USA Today. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  3. ^ "Zovatto goes 'Beneath'". Variety. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Director Larry Fessenden talks about his monster-fish movie 'Beneath' and its 'black humor'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  5. ^ "How Larry Fessenden's Chiller-Produced Shocker 'Beneath' Wrestles With the Made-For-TV Formula". IndieWire. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  6. ^ Doro, Paul. "Review: Beneath". STYD. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Stanley Film Fest 2013 Review: 'Beneath' Is What Happens When Indie Directors Have Bills to Pay". FSR. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Review: Beneath (2013)". Dread Central. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  9. ^ "Review: Beneath". Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  10. ^ Rooney, David (11 July 2013). "Beneath: Film Review". THR. Retrieved 23 December 2013.

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