There Is Little To Discover Beneath the Surface (2022)
Title: Beneath the Surface
First Non-Festival Release: March 1, 2022 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca Matthews
Writer: Paul W. Franklin
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Starring: Georgie Banks, Stephanie Lodge, Matthew Marcelis
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Lexy (Georgie Banks) survives a shark attack that leaves her sister and father dead. Afterwards she is only left with her boyfriend Isaac (Matthew Marcelis) and stepmother Vicky (Stephanie Lodge), who she grows increasingly suspicious of in the months following the accident. At the advice of her friend Amy (Beatrice Fletcher) Lexy enrolls in a program at the NHS to get therapy from Dr. Fran Goodman (Nicola Wright). Together they unravel her thought process that leads her to believe that the events in South Africa that took her family’s lives was done with malice.;
Post traumatic shark attack mystery thriller Beneath the Surface sinks action to the seafloor with bafflingly silly plot decisions.
What kills Beneath the Surface is its commitment to telling a story much less interesting than its most major subplot. The decision to make the film a response to the shark attack and intersperse the incident throughout the film, gradually giving the audience more of the actual hook to the film, is a strange one. Admittedly, there is plenty to mine within this premise but its confinement to the family’s house doesn’t give it the ability to be dynamic in its storytelling. What’s more, the actual shark attacks are so sparingly used that they could be taken out of the film, and it would not disrupt the flow. The wonky insertions mess up the pacing, making Beneath the Surface an arduous watch overall.
Visually, the film is more interesting than most of the films put on by this production company and director. The shark attack scenes are used sparingly, likely due to budget limitations, but they do evoke a feeling of danger and excitement, even for fleeting moments. If only the film capitalized on what makes shark films scary instead of opting for a listless family horror drama with a horrendous twist. Regardless, the dynamics of the attack scenes showcase that there is some talent there, it is likely the budget is the biggest obstacle in the way of making a better script come to life.
The motivations of the characters are laughable and drag the film down further than the B-movie depths they were destined to set anchor in. Surely there are easier ways to accomplish what they set out to do. It all feels nonsensical and more of an aid to tell the film’s ridiculous story than coming up with something truly compelling. Lexy’s PTSD character arc amounts to very little too. Sure, she gains the ability to stand up for herself but in the context of her personal life, it doesn’t feel as cinematic or earned in the end.
It’s rough to get through some of the heavier scenes when the cast cannot handle the material given. The dialogue isn’t excellent by any means, but the cast does not elevate the material whatsoever. It gets more noticeable when the characters fight with one another. Their raw emotions rarely translate to anything that feels genuine to the viewer. Combine this with the tedious pacing and overly serious tone and the result is a miserable experience that works as a tenth-choice subplot for a third-rate telenovela, not a feature shark attack film.
By the time Beneath the Surface reaches the shoreline, it tapers off into a muddled and irritating mess of a shark trauma film. Shaky character motivations and odd narrative structure choices make it even more difficult to connect with the events onscreen. Its disjointed tone does the film no favors either as it overcompensates with a super serious tone despite its silly decisions in progressing the plot. Lovers of shark films will likely find little to gnaw on here as most of the shark violence is done in the periphery. With little bite and an overemphasis on treading water, Beneath the Surface is better off finned and left to sink to the bottom of the ocean.
Overall Score? 3/10