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“Holy crap.” [Both a line of dialogue and my constant thought while watching this…movie.]
Genre: WTF Lovecraftian Wannabes
Year Released: 2020
Where I Watched: Netflix
Synopsis: Unlikeable 27 year old teenager gets to spend her summer with her immature, weird mom. Mom has a weird boyfriend. Maybe he’s not human? Maybe he’s just a guy that likes sniffing her clothes. Who’s to say?
Fabulous or Frustrating?: This is a film that feels like huge chunks of plot we’re gouged out at random. Because there are so many unanswered questions at the end of this film, I’d like to give the Creator’s the benefit of the doubt that they actually did know what kind of story they wanted to tell, but were hampered by post-production? Otherwise this is just a garbage film by a bunch of people that don’t want know what the hell they were doing. So? Let’s get on with this.
Mina Suvari? Why are you in this? Mortgage due? Okay, I respect that. But her immature character makes Cool Mom in Mean Girls seem like she’s got her act together. I think they were trying for a Gilmore Girls “mom & daughter BFFs” vibe, but thanks to the strange dialogue and weird closeups, it comes off odd as hell. Meanwhile, the girl Libby is pouty and obnoxious. (I’m not gonna bother with looking up the actress again. But she is in fact 27 playing 16. I guess Stockard Channing was unavailable?)
Then there’s the dynamics between characters. I’ve already mentioned that the mother/daughter vibe is weird, but the out of nowhere attraction Libby has for her mom’s bf is creepy. Add to that that Libby’s mom is creepy, and Libby herself is creepy? There’s really nobody to root for beyond hoping someone survives. But honestly, I didn’t care about any of them, not even the “mysterious” boyfriend. And as someone who typically hates when all characters are toast at the end of a horror movie? I was crossing my fingers for an alien apocalypse.
This movie try so hard to be mysterious that it ends up just being a mess. And let’s just say that after 365 Days, I can’t hear “Baby Girl” without cringing. And that nickname – that her mom uses for Libby – sounds forced every time it’s uttered. Mina, you are so much better than this. But after you played Nicole Brown Simpson? I’m guessing you’re just padding your IMDb with any ol’ thing. Please stop that. Or at least make sure you’re getting serious bank.
Then there’s John Smith, the alien guy dressed up as Basic Hot Dude. He starts off as your basic DILF, but takes a hard turn into Weirdoville super quick. From weird sniffing, to maybe pregnant mom, to with another woman (but wearing glasses), to winking at Libby…and let’s not forget his grabbing her bleeding vajayjay then licking the blood off his fingers. (“It’s just science.”) WTH is going on? THAT scene happens at around the 40 minute mark, and while that’s close to halfway through, I had zero idea what the hell was going on.
The bad judgment of the director is just loud and proud in everything. From the strange choice of sinister music when the boyfriend comes out of the pool, to the weird close-ups, a dialogue… And on and on. The director has explained a bit of the film during interviews, but if you’ve got to explain something afterwards in order for your viewers to get it? You didn’t movie correctly. Below feels like an inept setup for a film or TV series that forgot about needing to get viewers invested in the movie at hand. Don’t count your sequels before their hatched, my people.
Add in a Token Black Person As Murder Fodder, a whole lot of questions the film never answers, and just plain ugly cinematography, and Below is a movie that’s too jumbled to be a fun-bad movie watch unless you’re seriously hammered and surrounded by equally masochistic friends. And there are much better movies that’ll give you the fun you’re looking for. May I suggest Repo! The Genetic Opera? At least with Repo you’ll get fun tunes while you ogle Tony Head and Terrance Zdunich…
Freak-O-Meter: 0 out of 5 Freaks