Ever since "Jaws" hit theaters in 1975, filmmakers have attempted to cash in on the killer sea monster craze. We've seen three sequels to the original Steven Spielberg classic alone. When sharks lost their charm, other sea beasts were drafted to take their place in the world of horror cinema. "Orca, the Killer Whale" and "Piranha" come to mind right away. Now we can add the over-sized razor-toothed catfish of "Beneath" to the list.
A group of high school students head out to Black Lake in celebration of their graduation. Ignoring the folk tales of the area, the bunch load up a small fishing boat and paddle their way to the other side. As their partying and swimming gets increasingly noisier, something deep in the depths of the lake is awakened and begins looking for its next meal.
It's very apparent Director Larry Fessenden was influenced by "Jaws" and "Piranha" when bringing "Beneath" to the screen. The aerial camera shots showing the creature swim below the boat are ripped right out of a page of the cinematographer's diary for "Jaws." As a matter of fact, most of the camera angles and shots in this are taken straight out of Spielberg's original.
The great thing about "Beneath" is that it isn't content with being an homage to "Jaws" and "Piranha." Writers Tony Daniel and Brian D. Smith make the movie a study on human relationships and the lengths we would go to for self-preservation. It makes for a pleasantly uncomfortable and shockingly horrific viewing experience.
The audio and video quality of "Beneath" is top-notch. It's presented in 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) and DTS-HD Master Audio. The picture is clean with good color levels. Every scream and shriek is clearly heard thanks to superior sound.
Scream Factory delivers plenty of bonus material for "Beneath." Audio commentary is provided by Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick . There are also featurettes entitled "A Look Behind 'Beneath:' Making the "Fish Movie,'" Fessenden on 'Jaws,'" "What's in Black Lake," and "From the Web: What the Zeke?" A theatrical trailer is also included.
"Beneath" is not rated, but should be stamped with an R for gore, violence, language, and adult situations. There's no sex or nudity, but the kids do talk about it. Although there's a lot of blood, it's no more than what we've seen in any of the "Jaws" films.
As far as any sort of messages "Beneath" might be trying to get across to audiences, I would say there's maybe a couple. You can't trust anyone comes to mind. It also makes you think about what sort of horrible things people will do to save their own skin. Let's just say that in the end, nobody's a good guy or girl and everyone's to blame for something in "Beneath."
Imagine a character study the likes of Hitchcock's "Lifeboat" blended with the bloody terror of "Jaws" and fun of "Piranha" all swirled together in a small indie horror package. If you can do that, then you have an idea of what to expect from "Beneath." Just don't go into the movie with any hope of a positive outcome. You won't find that here for sure.