March 25, 2014
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Indiewire on BENEATH

From Sean Axmaker at Indiewire:

“Beneath” was one of the best horror film of 2013. But most people never heard about it.

Produced by Chiller, a horror-themed sibling to the SyFy cable network still struggling for name recognition and access to cable systems, “Beneath” is the first feature in almost a decade directed by Larry Fessenden. It played a few film festivals and received a limited (very limited) release in July before hitting cable on a channel that few viewers know exists. Which means that hardly anyone has had an opportunity to see the film. With the movie coming out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, that should change.

The limited coverage it has received so far, at least on the horror-centric sites, seems to have missed the point, or at least became so complacent in their own superiority to the conventions of the genre that they never noticed how cleverly Fessenden, who has been turning classic horror genres inside out for over twenty years, and the screenwriters transformed the conventions of this genre—notably the idiotic behavior of potential teenage victims—into defining elements of story and character.

“Beneath” is both a tribute to monster-in-the-woods and the creature-under-the-water horror (the opening dream sequence turns the “Jaws” prologue into a teenage wet dream) and a genuine indie drama in the guise of a horror film. It springs from Fessenden’s love of reimagining classic genres in modern terms and real-world situations, and for using the conventions to tell character stories. And it was accomplished on a commercial cable movie budget.

The opening act unfolds like a classic “teens under attack” horror film: six friends drive out to the woods to celebrate high school graduation with beer and fireworks on an island in the middle of an isolated lake. You can check off the tropes as they roll out: the competitive jock brothers, the nerdy video guy who won’t stop filming his friends (and provokes them in the name of drama), the bubbly and sweet-natured blonde babe that all the guys desire, the other girl (who just may also desire the blonde), and the brooding guy who guides them all to this hidden lake.

Johnny (Daniel Zovatto), the brooding one, knows of the legend a lake monster but neglects to tell his friends. Maybe he really doesn’t believe it, but he brings along a rustic charm just in case and he tries to give one to Kitty (Bonnie Dennison), the blonde. There’s even an old guy on the property (played by “Breaking Bad” drug kingpin Mark Margolis) with the usual warnings. Johnny assures him that he’ll keep the kids out of the water … because that’s gonna work out great. Sure enough, a monster of a catfish the size of a Buick comes prowling as soon as the kids jump in the water.

For the next half hour the kids do all the dumb, reckless, aggressive things guaranteed to strand them in the middle of the lake without a paddle. The jocks, pumped up on testosterone and their own egos, poke it with a stick, or in this case an oar. Old Man Catfish renders it to splinters with a mighty chomp. When they run out of paddles (because they aren’t bright enough to learn from their mistakes) they starts tossing one another overboard, voting members off the boat like a real-world “Survivor,” only here the losers become fish bait, sacrifices to distract an indifference fish god. And the aspiring director, Zeke, is there to record it all in his own reality horror.

Then something interesting happens. What first appears to be a lazy set-up to stake out its victims for the movie menace turns out to be an insidious insight to the true nature of its characters and the basis for the real conflict of the film. The crisis dredges up the envy, resentment, spite, and animosity these kids have been burying all this time under snarky remarks and dirty looks. Get past the genre and this is David Mamet in a boat, a savage portrait of survivalism at all costs. The so-called best friends turn on one other with a venomous vengeance.

“Beneath” turns into a smart, savage film that plays with the familiar conventions and then twists a knife in them, and it’s all done with a small cast, a confined space, and a script that reveals the worst in humanity. It looks less like a TV movie than a theatrical indie. Apart from the opening, it all takes place in the boat on the midst of a wooded lake, shot in the harsh light of day rather than the shadows of night, out in the open with a clean, sharp visual style. Not your usual visual strategy for a low-budget monster movie.

Read More…

March 25, 2014
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BENEATH Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD!

Happy BENEATH Blu-ray/DVD Release Day! Fessenden’s killer fish flick is now available at Scream Factory, Amazon, Walmart and more.

Special Features include
Audio Commentary by Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick
A Look Behind BENEATH: Making the “Fish Movie”
Theatrical Trailer
Fessenden on JAWS
From the Web: WHAT THE ZEKE?
From The Web: WHAT’S IN BLACK LAKE?
Poster/Premiere Video
Digital Copy of the film

March 24, 2014
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USA TODAY Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes of BENEATH

USA TODAY has an exclusive clip from the behind-the-scenes feature on the new BENEATH Blu-ray, coming out tomorrow from Scream Factory!

March 24, 2014
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BENEATH at Cinephiled

Fessenden gives basically the same interview all over again in Sean Alexander’s article for Cinephiled:

Watching with Larry Fessenden, director of ‘Beneath’

Larry Fessenden loves horror movies. As a director he has brought his own unique approach to the classic horror stories and conventions in such films as HabitWendigo, and his animist ghost story / environmental thriller The Last Winter. Through his production company Glass Eye Pix his has produced or co-produced dozens of films, including Kelly Reichert’s Wendy and Lucy andNight Moves, Ti West’s The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, Jim Mickle’s Stake Land, and the recent documentary Birth of the Living Dead, a tribute to one of the holy grails of modern horror.

Apart from an episode of the horror TV series Fear Itself, Fessenden hasn’t directed a film since the 2004The Last Winter, an eco-twist on the ghost story in the culture of big oil, so the arrival of Beneath, about a group of teenagers, a rowboat in the middle of a lake, and a giant, hungry, man-eating catfish looking for its next meal, is reason to celebrate. It begins as a classic tale of teens behaving badly, and more importantly stupidly, but what first appears to be a lazy set-up to stake out its victims for the movie menace turns out to be an insidious insight to the true nature of its characters and the basis for the real conflict of the film. It’s a smart, savage film that plays with the familiar conventions and then twists a knife in them, and it’s all done with a small cast, a confined space, and a script that reveals the worst in humanity.

Read full article

 

March 21, 2014
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BENEATH on Daily Dead

DAILY DEAD: Exclusive Interview with Beneath’s Larry Fessenden by Derek Anderson 3/21/14

Director Larry Fessenden’s latest feature, Beneath, focuses on six freshly graduated high school seniors who cross paths with a massive, human-eating fish one day on Black Lake. The film is a potent blend of physical and psychological scares, and it’s getting a Blu-ray & DVD release via Scream Factory on March 25th. With the home media release coming soon, I recently chatted with Larry about his experience making Beneath.

Larry, thank you for taking the time to talk about your latest directorial feature, Beneath. To start things off, can you tell our readers what attracted you to direct this screenplay by Tony Daniel and Brian Smith?

Well, I really loved how contained the story was. It all takes place on a lake, on a tiny rowboat, and I’m a fan of the experiments Hitchcock would get up to where you sort of limit your options. He made a movie called Lifeboat that was all in one boat. That was one thing that interested me, it almost becomes like a play. And the other thing I liked is the giant fish. What’s not to like? I just loved the idea of making a creature feature. I love monsters and fish and dinosaurs and all kinds of creatures so it seemed really fun to be able to make a practical effects creature feature, and also explore how dreadful these kids are to each other. Which is kind of my viewpoint of humanity, so I got to exercise three things all at once: cinematic limitations, a monster movie, and explore human nature at its darkest.

Read whole interview at dAILY DEAD

March 21, 2014
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Entertainment Weekly: BENEATH and JAWS

(photo from the director’s private collection)

From Entertainment Weekly: ‘Beneath’ DVD: Larry Fessenden talks ‘Jaws’ — EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

In the new horror movie Beneath — which Scream Factory is releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on March 25 — a group of folks attempt to fend off a huge fish in a boat too small for the task. If you think that sounds a lot like the plot of Jaws, then director Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Last Winter) will not be the least bit offended.

Indeed, Fessenden admits seeing Steven Spielberg’s film during its original release proved a massive, formative influence. “I saw it in Cape Cod in 1975,” the director told me, when he recently guested on SiriusXM 105′s Entertainment Weirdly. “I was obsessed with that film. I recorded the sound so I know the whole movie by heart, Mr Hooper! Then, I decided to make a GI Joe version and built the boat, a 6-foot Orca.”
Oh, if only Fessenden had kept that boat. Actually, he did! And the director shows it off with justified pride in the exclusive clip from the Beneath bonus features.

March 20, 2014
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Enter the BENEATH Sweepstakes

Our friends at FEARnet are hosting a BENEATH sweepstakes where you can win a Blu-Ray Prize Pack from Scream Factory featuring “Beneath”, “The Island” and the original classic “Piranha”

Enter here.

Fessenden’s BENEATH hits Blu-ray and DVD March 25.

March 18, 2014
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BENEATH interview at Dread Central

From DreadCentral.com:

“Veteran horror contributor and all-around cool guy Larry Fessenden has a lot of acting, directing and producing credits to his name. But he’s never worked with anything quite like he did on Beneath. Fessenden recently sat down with Dread Central to talk about his new film.

First he gave us a brief synopsis of what viewers can expect when they hitch their anchor to Beneath. “It’s a stylish little horror film about six teenagers stuck in a rowboat with a malevolent force under the water trying to get them,” Fessenden said.

“It’s a movie about the decisions they make to get out of the dilemma, and they’re not all pretty decisions.”

Check out the full interview on Dread Central.

BENEATH hits Blu-ray/DVD March 25th via Scream Factory.

January 23, 2014
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BENEATH Blu-ray/DVD Specs Revealed

The BENEATH Blu-ray and DVD hit shelves March 25th!

Get details on the release and special features at Dread Central.

January 9, 2014
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BENEATH Praise from MediaPost

Check out Ed Martin’s full article at MediaPost’s TV Blog.