If you watched What Lies Below on Netflix and are still scratching your head over that ending, you’re not alone. The thriller, originally released in December, has found new life on the streaming platform, joining the ranks of other soapy, viral thrillers like Deadly Illusions and Fatal Affair. This subgenre has almost become a signature for Netflix; they’re movies that don’t necessarily have critical acclaim but are highly watchable thanks to bonkers plot points, campy acting, and Lifetime-esque melodrama.
What Lies Below has all those things and also, as a bonus, mermen! Or aliens! Or some other indiscernible extraterrestrial monster. It’s not made clear specifically what John (Trey Tucker) is, but we know he’s emerged from the water to wreak havoc on Michelle (Mena Suvari) and her daughter, Libby (Ema Horvath).
But they don’t know that. To Michelle, John is just a hunky, bearded, Speedo-wearing 30-year-old who’s appeared out of nowhere to woo her. So what if he spends hours in her basement working on spooky “aquatic geneticist” things? Look at his shoulders!
When Libby comes home from camp and meets John, she’s cool with him at first, but then things get weird. Like, creepy-uncomfortable-WTF-is-happening weird. There’s an incident on a boat where Libby gets her period, after which he licks her menstrual blood. He then spies on her in the shower and sniffs the shirt he used to wipe up said blood. It’s all very disturbing and confusing.
And it just keeps getting more disturbing and confusing. By the end, you’re not sure what’s going on—just that John is bad, he’s imprisoned and impregnated Michelle, and Libby needs to save the day.
But she doesn’t. In a bizarre, unfortunate twist of events, Michelle dies and Libby is kidnapped by John and a bunch of other scary mermen/aliens who look like him. He then injects some blue light into her and she wakes up in a diamond-shaped cell that’s submerged in water. At first, she freaks out because the tank is filling up. But then she…smiles? Boom, ending, roll credits. What is happening?