3 flicks about teens in trouble, but were they terrifying?

I’m really itching for some satisfying teen horror flicks, but it’s starting to feel like those are becoming a thing of decades past. I dug up three newer titles between Netflix and Hulu, but were any of them worth the watch?

WHAT LIES BELOW (2020)

I’m always okay with a derivative horror thriller about a teenager that knows mom is dating a less than human hunk, and What Lies Below starts off fine. But just when the shit hits the fan—the part we’ve been waiting for—the movie falls apart.

Mena Suvari plays the mother of a teenage daughter, which is a harsh reminder that I’m old. She has a surprise for the daughter when they arrive at their summer house…a hot stud in a Speedo strutting out of the lake.

Yep, mom has a new boyfriend, and he’s not only as boring and weird as Denise Richards’s husband on the Beverly Hills Housewives, he’s also a dead ringer for just about every privileged white gay out there. So it’s hard to buy that both mom and daughter are getting all wet for him. And yet, his creepy performance proves to be the best part of the film (well, that and the Speedo).

Things get really fucking weird between him and the daughter and she quickly gets her hormones in check. There’s something seriously wrong with this freak, who is obsessed with the nastiest life forms the lake has to offer. Mom and daughter are about to get wetter than they could have imagined.

Just as it’s time to face off against the hunk to find out what he really is, the film gets drenched in Argento colors. But that can’t camouflage the absolute mess the final act becomes.

Despite sort of piecing it together, both the hubby and I had no fricking idea what was happening by the end thanks to a series of events that suffered from continuity and editing issues, such as a suddenly odd number of new, seemingly unspecified locations (for instance, there seemed to be several basements), the main girl’s friend just disappearing without any explanation (she walked upstairs, never to be seen or mentioned again), and an edit that made both the hubby and I laugh out loud in which it comes across as if the daughter just tosses the mother on the floor.

SEVEN IN HEAVEN (2018)

I avoided a load of Blumhouse movies that hit Prime when the pandemic first hit because friends warned me they weren’t really horror films. I didn’t realize Seven In Heaven on Netflix was a Blumhouse film until I began watching it. It also is not much of a horror movie, and by the end it’s just a confusing knot of alternate realities.

A kid goes to a house party of a friend whose family is about to move. In a mostly empty room there’s an empty closet and a deck of cards with images of sexy ladies on them. Soon, several kids are in the room playing a card game that leads to the main guy and the wickedly bad girl from the Hulu show Light as a Feather having to go into the closet for seven minutes.

When they come out, they are not exactly on the same plane of existence. A bunch of kids start violently beating up the main guy, his best friend is dead, his dead dad is alive, and one of his teachers is hunting him down in a car.

He and the girl have to try to get back to the closet and return to their original, more pleasant reality. If only the plot were that simple, because that’s about when this shit started making no sense. And considering it doesn’t deliver anything horror related beyond a darker existence for these two, those looking strictly for horror might not find it worth sitting through this one to try to decipher it.

SUPER DARK TIMES (2017)

Super Dark Times is a moody blend of various subgenres, and it even scores a spot on the holiday horror page because it takes place at Christmastime despite no one making any reference whatsoever to the holiday.

Focusing on two geeky teens that are best of friends and enjoy their bond and time together in a small town despite a lack of popularity, it immediately has the nostalgic throwback feel to simpler times that you get from the likes of Stranger Things and Super 8. However, based on some of the references, I think it’s supposed to take place in the 90s, not the 80s.

It’s when the boys are goofing off with a couple of other friends that there’s a terrible and fatal accident. It’s one of those setups that has been used in horror movies for years (kids do something awful, cover it up, and vow never to speak of it again), but because this isn’t a polished, mainstream movie starring the pretty people of the moment, there’s something disturbingly real about the way it plays out. You can truly feel how these innocent kids are suddenly thrust into a situation that changes their lives and relationships in an instant.

However, the horror here is in how one of the boys is haunted by what they did and the fear of the truth catching up with him (think Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”). He has frightening nightmares of the dead returning, hears voices, and eventually discovers the experience has affected his friend much worse.

This is not a conventional “I know what you did last Christmas” horror movie plot, but the gritty, raw feel really kept my interest.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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