Landing on VoD at the end of 2020 during the pandemic, What is below couldn’t attract much attention from the audience. But his Netflix debut was a different story as the horror thriller about a Merman topped the streaming charts. The film, written and directed by Braden R. Duemmler, has become a Netflix phenomenon as it became the number 1 new release on the app. But many were baffled by the end, which some viewers found quite confusing. Beware, there are spoilers ahead of you in case you haven’t seen What Lies Below.
So what’s wrong with that ending? The film follows a socially awkward 16-year-old who meets her mother’s fiancé, a man whose charm, intelligence, and beauty seem too perfect to be human. What is it. As the thriller plays, it becomes clear that the man in question is a fish monster. Some prefer the term merman.
Ema Horvath plays 16-year-old Liberty Wells, who comes home from camp and is immediately disturbed by the much younger man named John Smith, played by Trey Tucker, who just seems interested in waterproofing her mother, which is played by American Pie and American Beauty, Mena Suvari’s favorite. Smith claims to be a water geneticist studying lampreys. The audience quickly realizes, however, that he’s a fish person like we haven’t seen since Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water. Only this man has a sinister agenda.
Unlike most cut-and-paste horror movies of late, What Lies Below takes an odd turn in act three, and the ending has many puzzled. Liberty Wells wakes up in a diamond-shaped container that fills with water. It is then revealed that Ema Horvath is sitting between a number of other similar looking “cells”, all occupied by women. The very last second of the film shows Liberty bursting into a smile as she dives completely underwater.
Braden R. Duemmler says he has received a lot of hate emails since What Lies Below was released on Netflix. And now he answers for the end. Anyone who has watched the subtitled film will learn that John Smith the Merman is, in fact, an alien.
“I heard that [cat] is out of your pocket, because when you put the subtitles on it appears to say “Alien Noises”. So, yeah, I’d say he’s a species from another planet. I don’t want to unwrap it much more. I would say if you missed something, maybe go back to the time Libby drove the car down to look into the lake and see what she sees. We could go into the weeds more if you want. ”
Basically, What Lies Below is a movie that needs to be watched over and over. The director seemed a bit cagey and delved deeper into this ending. The thriller actually has a second ending that features several other Merman who look exactly like John Smith digging women out of walls. Braden R. Duemmler explains what happens.
“Okay. I saw it when John was designed by his species. He’s an exoskeleton designed as a Venus flytrap. Although the exoskeleton is the same, the algorithm changes for each one. One of them is a scientist and one Kind of nerdy. The other one is kind of hipster. The other one is kind of rock and roll. They do it to attract different personalities but they are always looking for the same thing which is very evident in the last shot I collect copies. And I’d say to anyone who felt uncomfortable throughout the movie, go back and listen to John’s lines and imagine he’s talking about Libby and Michelle as copies instead of people and then suddenly his choice of words makes more sense. ”
He adds this information for viewers who are still confused by the mysterious ending.
“They all only converge when the cops converge because they don’t want to leave a footprint. They are much stronger, faster, smarter than us, have heightened senses, they are a highly advanced species so they can clear a space in no time leave. ”
The cell that Liberty is in at the end is actually inside a UFO, which is 100% confirmed by the director: “Yes, it is. It’s the hull of a spaceship.” And that smile that Ema Horvath breaks at the end of the film? “She can breathe underwater and she can tell. She has not yet been impregnated. She was brought to further experiments. The blue light is the apparatus with which things can breathe underwater.”
Although the ending is confusing, Braden R. Duemmler doesn’t think he would go back and change anything. As he points out, he shot the thriller on a budget and doesn’t know that it would explain anything more than what can be seen in the actual film. Because of its popularity on Netflix, there is always the option of a sequel that delves deeper into the secrets fans currently hold. If you want to learn more about some of the other confusing moments in the film, the filmmaker at Entertainment Weekly has more answers.
Topics: What lies below