What Lies Below (2020) Movie Review

Director: Braden R Duelmmler

Writer: Braden R Duemmler (Screenplay)

Starring: Ema Horvath, Troy Iwata, Danny Corbo, Mena Suvari, Trey Tucker

Plot: A 16 year-old girl returns home from camp and learns that her mother has a new boyfriend, one she intends to marry; a man whose charm, intelligence and beauty make him look like he’s not human at all.


Tagline – Fear comes to the surface

Runtime: 1 Hour 27 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: What Lies Below starts when Liberty (Horbath) returns from summer camp to her mother’s Michelle (Suvari) house, only to learn she has a new boyfriend John Smith (Tucker), a hunk of a man. Liberty does start noticing John around the home, flirting in her own way too.

When Liberty starts seeing a stranger side to John, she starts getting worried, believing something else is going on. She must try to convince her mother about John before it is too late, before the most sinister nature behind John’s motives are revealed.

Thoughts on What Lies Below

Characters & Performances – Liberty is the 16-year-old returning from camp, looking to spend time with her mother at their home in the woods. She gets to meet her mother’s new boyfriend, drooling over him as she does, but soon starting to notice something strange about him, trying his best to expose the truth before it is too late. Liberty is a character that has been through a lot, seen her mother date before, which has helped cause this reaction for her, making her look more paranoid than uncomfortable around him. Ema Horvath is great in the leading role, she must bring the teenager to life, showing both the uncertainty of growing up, with the fear of change, with the paranoid side about the new man in her life. Michelle is the mother of Liberty, starting out like the normal embarrassing mother who has raised her daughter alone, before coming down with an illness, which will see her needing to let her new boyfriend spend time with Liberty. Mena Suvari is the biggest name involved in this film, which does see her take more of a backseat, once everything takes off. John Smith is the new boyfriend, both women can be caught drooling over him, he is working on the local water wildlife, with a project that he does show Liberty, but he is always acting shady, which will see Liberty being wary of him. Trey Tucker does bring us a sinister creepy hunk to life with ease, always having his scenes surrounded in tension.

StoryThe story follows a teenage girl that learns her mother has met a new man while she was at camp, only not everything seems to be right with the new man, he seems a little too perfect. This story could be best described like Stepfather meets Species, it is clear that not everything is right, it is clear the mother believes the person is perfect and previous problems have made it easier for her not to believe her daughter. It is paced out as you would imagine, not going too slow, keeping everything connected in make it feels like Liberty is slowly learning and suspecting something is off, without having an easy out for help. This could have seen more characters involved, to build up to what John is up to, but then again, the mystery about him adds a different angle to the story.

ThemesWhat Lies Below is a horror that will keep us guessing to what John is up to, we learn just keeps us knowing something evil is coming, the location helps with the home in the middle of the woods, one where nobody can see what is going on around. When it comes to the effects, we get to see the slow reveal to what John really is.

Signature Entertainment presents What Lies Below on Digital Platforms 22nd February 

What Lies Below that mixes Stepfather with Species and gives us a new terrifying reality.

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – M – Memories of a Geisha (2005) Movie Rob’s pick

This is Movie Rob’s pick, head over to his site for more reviews here.

“We must not expect happiness, Sayuri. It is not something we deserve. When life goes well, it is a sudden gift; it cannot last forever… ” Chairman

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Feb 2021)

Brief Synopsis – A young Japanese girl is sold by her family to be trained as a geisha in pre-World War II Japan.

My Take on it –This is a film that I had heard about when it came out, yet never had the chance to check it out until now.

It’s unfortunate that I waited so long to find out, because this was such an eye opening film.

Amazing film that works so well in helping establish the way of life for poor young women in Japan.

The story plays out really well and allows us to see this very complicated life that this society had woven into its fabric.

From a production standpoint, this film is exquisite to watch because of the way that it all is put together.

The costumes, set direction, cinematography and music all help enhance the illusion that we are being transported back in time to another world.

The film was nominated for 6 Oscars in the technical categories and won 3 of them – Cinematography, Art Direction and Costumes.  It lost for Best Score, Sound Design and Sound Mixing.

The score by John Williams is amazing and really helps the story feel even more epic in the way that it’s all being told.

Listen to it here:

Williams might have lost the Oscar for his work here, but he did win a Golden Globe for it.

The cast is able to give us some of the most talented actors that are of Japanese descent including Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yoeh, Ken Watanabe, Mako and Gong Li.

The fact that this is based on a novel makes things more difficult to present it all on screen due to the need for much of the characters thoughts and opinions on events and on everything that transpires here.

The characters are developed really well and we get a clear idea that they each know their place in society and even somewhat strive to fulfill as much promise as possible in their lives especially when looking at things from a romance standpoint.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The first film in John Williams’ career for which he asked to compose the music.  (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)

ABC Film Challenge – Oscar Nominations – M – Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Movie Review

Director: Rob Marshall

Writer: David Magee, Rob Marshall, John DeLuca (Screenplay) P.L. Travers (Stories)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Winshaw, Emily Mortimer, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh

Plot: A few decades after her original visit, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the magical nanny, returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s (Ben Whishaw’s) children through a difficult time in their lives.

Runtime: 2 Hours 10 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Dull Throughout

Story: Mary Poppins Returns starts as the Banks siblings, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are back living together after the death of Michael’s wife, his children Annabel (Davies), John (Saleh) and Georgie (Dawson) living with them along with Ellen (Walters) the housekeeper. With the family struggling with money, they are facing an uncertain future, until Mary Poppins (Blunt) returns to the Banks family to help the children once again.

As Mary Poppins teaches the kids a life lesson, we see how the family is still looking for options to save their house.

Thoughts on Mary Poppins Returns

Characters – Mary Poppins returns to the Banks family to help them in their time of need, she is polite and demanding on the children, singing along the way, only she doesn’t seem to help the family that much, other than distracting the children. Jack is the son of the chimney sweep who has been waiting for the return of Mary Poppins and has a history with the Banks siblings. Michael Banks is trying to keep roof over his family’s heads after the death of his wife, his sister is supporting him and his is clumsy, that is all we learn about him. Jane is the sister that helps around the house, she doesn’t remember Jack from their childhood.

PerformancesEmily Blunt might be delightful to watch as Mary Poppins, only the character seems aimless in this film. The rest of the cast are fine, nobody is doing enough to make the impact they could, with the three child stars being the high highlight of the film.

StoryThe story here follows the Banks family getting a second visit from Mary Poppins who has come to help them in their time of need once again as they are about to lose their home. The story doesn’t seem to click in anyway, because we are follow the children on adventures with Mary Poppins, only the film shows us the story is about how they need to try and rescue their home. It just leaves us confused and focusing on the wrong paths for the most part and ends up just being songs that just are not catchy as Disney is usually wonderful at doing

Comedy/FantasyThe comedy barely ever hits, while the fantasy side of the film is more about taking more out of life, though it misses the magic of the original film.

SettingsThe film does continue to use the old style of London, which does look great through the film, which is easily the best part of the film.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are mixed because at times you can clearly see the green screen for parts and it doesn’t help the extra fantasy side of the film.


Scene of the Movie – Bath time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The story doesn’t work well enough.

Final Thoughts This is a poor sequel to a much-loved classic, which gets the story confused and ends up leaving us waiting for any sort of catchy song to start.

Overall: Disappointing Sequel.

Lou Simon’s Agoraphobia – Release News

Agoraphobia, starring Cassie Scerbo and Tony Todd, finally gets its North American release 12th February.

The film tells the story of an agoraphobic who inherits her father’s house in a remote part of the Florida Keys. Afraid to go outside, she discovers that there’s something far more terrifying trapped inside the house with her.

 Cassandra Scerbo plays the role of 

the agoraphobic, 

Faye, and Tony Todd plays her psychiatrist, Doctor Murphy.