The thinking woman’s (and man’s) horror meister, Larry Fessenden, opens his latest film, “Beneath,” with a beautiful but foreboding underwater shot–are some of those bubbles slightly blood red?–and vaguely unsettling music, as a young, blonde woman struggles to surface. But, big relief, it’s just a dream–yet Johnny, the dreamer, once awakened still seems flooded with dread.
Johnny and five friends (hormones in overdrive, rivalries simmering) celebrating their high school graduation, head off to remote (of course it is) Black Lake, where his family keeps a big rowboat, which the group plans to row to the far shore and commence partying. Encountering a friend of his grandfather’s working on his small boat’s motor, Johnny hears again about the (rumored) problem with the lake. But he anxiously dismisses the warning and re-joins Kitty, Deb, Matt, Simon and Zeke.
Horror isn’t always restricted to the dark and close and soon, in the sunlit expanse of peaceful water, ringed by dense trees, the teens find themselves in a sinking boat, oars lost overboard, menaced by a bloodthirsty underwater predator.
The first friend lost, Deb, is slid from the boat into the water (a gorgeous, melancholy shot), an offering to the demon, meant to buy the others time, as obnoxious Zeke, a wannabe director, documents everything with his wristband-mounted GoPro. But the beast will not be pacified.
“Beneath” will open on Wednesday, July 17 at the IFC Center in New York and will be available on demand on Tuesday, July 16. Brooklyn’s indieScreen will show “Beneath” at 9:00 pm on Tuesday, July 16 (with Larry Fessenden in attendance for a Q&A), Friday, July 19 and Saturday, July 20. For additional venues (and other goodies), check the website, www.beneaththewater.com
Larry (one of the funniest people I know) and I met when I photographed him several years ago for a piece by Amy Taubin in The Village Voice. Last August, a few days before “Beneath” wrapped, I went to steamy Connecticut to shoot stills on Larry’s extraordinary set–a floating barge in the middle of a lake with a crew of 30, amazing young actors, rowboats and a submerged monster.