Warning: This article contains spoilers for what lies below the ending.
It may be spring, but Netflix knows it’s always a good time to watch a weird horror movie.
The 2020 sci-fi horror thriller What Lies Beneath recently started streaming on Netflix, and subscribers wasted no time watching it. Written and Directed by Braden R. Duemmler, What Lies Below was one of the most popular movies on Netflix over the Easter weekend, and is currently sitting at No. 3 in the “top 10 in the usa” from netflix list. of course! Happy Easter!
Originally released on demand in December 2020, What Lies Below stars Ema Horvath as a teenage girl named Libby, who becomes increasingly suspicious of her mother’s strange new boyfriend. Sure, he’s hot, but he’s also too obsessed with fish.
For the first 80 minutes of this movie, it seems like a perfectly normal horror movie with a Lovecraftian sci-fi monster vibe. but those last five minutes? all bets are off. it’s shocking, it’s unsettling, and honestly, it’s extremely confusing. Read on for the decider’s breakdown of what’s below the end, explained.
what is the movie what lies below on netflix about? what is the plot of what is underneath?
liberty “libby” wells is a teenager returning home from her summer camp in the adirondacks. When she returns to her mother’s lake house, she discovers that her mother, Michelle (Mena Suvari), has a surprise new boyfriend named John (Trey Tucker). john, in an effort to make libby like him, gives libby a bracelet with a navajo “stone of life”, which supposedly represents the goddess of fertility.
john is an “aquatic geneticist” trying to help freshwater animals adapt to saltwater habitats. In a demo of his research, there is a rare moment where John drowns in salt water. hmm.
john has converted the basement of the lake house into a strange laboratory for his experiments. he has a tank full of lampreys, which are those weird long fish with scary circular mouths that cling to things. john takes libby to a boat to help him catch some more lampreys, but apparently she has her period and john is really weird about it: he goes up to her crotch and basically touches it, then licks off the blood . then he’s super weird because she’s in the shower too and he starts smelling her clothes. ouch!
In the middle of the night, libby sees john walking towards the lake, which is bright orange. he runs to wake his mother but finds the bedroom door locked. When she goes out to investigate, John claims that he was sleepwalking. Libby, scared, tries to call her her best friend, but something blocks the connection. Fortunately, the texts are still sending, so she asks her best friend to come over ASAP.
Meanwhile, Michelle is getting sick and thinks she might be pregnant. libby goes into town to take a pregnancy test and sees someone who looks like john on a date with another woman.
Back at the house, libby hangs out with her best friend marley, while john takes care of michelle. Marley decides to confront John and Michelle about John’s sexual misconduct. next thing libby knows, she wakes up in bed and marley is gone. Michelle doesn’t think John did anything wrong.
what is the end of what is below? what is the plot twist of what lies below?
Libby tells John that Michelle lied about her age, suggesting she may be too old to have a baby, and John gets angry. then libby sees john and michelle having sex, and sees some strange scales on john. it’s like he’s some kind of demonic siren.
Later, libby discovers her mother tied up in a water tank in the basement. a scaly water monster comes down the stairs, but can’t seem to bear to touch the water on the floor. then, the creature becomes juan the human. John appears to be coaching Michelle through the birth of a strange baby alien aquatic creature, though we never see the birth.
john walks out to vomit a drop of bright light and as he leaves libby smashes the equipment john was using to jam the phone lines. He manages to call 911. He sees that John killed Marely and fed his body to the lampreys.
john grabs libby, but she throws a bucket of salt at him, causing him to gag in pain. libby frees her mother and the two begin to escape down the road. it looks like they’re going to run away… but then john catches up with them.
This is where the movie completely derails: libby wakes up bound and gagged in the basement. A group of men who are just like John punch holes in the walls, revealing dead bodies. then it spits a bright blue light into libby’s mouth and it’s gross.
In the final scene of the movie, libby wakes up in some kind of tank full of water, hits the glass and screams. the camera pulls back to reveal that she is surrounded by other women who appear to be in chrysalises. finally libby stops struggling and seems to be able to breathe underwater. she smiles. With that, the movie ends. uh… what?
what’s the end of what’s underneath, explained?
john was a demonic freshwater creature trying to figure out how to survive in salt water; that’s what i understand. what’s less clear is the part where there’s more than one of him, and the thing where libby wakes up trapped in a nightmarish aquarium. my best guess? john is just one of many aquatic demonic creatures that seek to impregnate women to aid the propagation of their kind (hence the whole “fertility” bracelet thing).
The final shot of the film suggests that libby has become a water-breathing monster and that john succeeded.
I’m not saying it’s a good ending. writer/director braden r. Duemmler seems more concerned with achieving that final chilling shot than trying to make sense of the story. my advice? don’t read too much, it’s more about the nihilistic and creepy vibes than the narrative. that’s how it is with horror movies, sometimes.
where to see what’s below