'What Lies Below' on Netflix Ending Explained: What That Final Scene Means

What Lies Below is the latest hit movie on Netflix, with the horror film currently the third most-watched on the streamer in the U.S. As with Deadly Illusions before it, what has drawn many viewers in to the movie is its shock twist ending, which sees the film switch from a strange relationship movie to an invasion flick—albeit in a way that has left many viewers confused.

A quick recap of how we get to the ending of What Lies Below. Our hero is Liberty or Libby for short (played by Ema Horvath), who returns home from camp to find her mother Michelle (Mena Suvari) has a new boyfriend, John (Trey Tucker).

Though he initially seems like your standard Netflix movie beefcake, the more we learn about John the stranger he seems. He seems to be deathly allergic to salt, has a tank of parasitic lampreys, and seems to have a thing for menstrual blood. Oh, and he also has scales.

In the lead-up to the ending, Libby sees someone who looks like John on a date with another woman, though she cannot get her mom to believe her. Later, Michelle may regret that she did not take that moment to cut her ties with John, as Libby finds her mother tied up in a water tank, where John is helping her give birth to some sort of water-dwelling alien.

what lies below ending explained
Trey Tucker in 'What Lies Below.' Netflix

Eventually, Libby is able to free her mother and escape with her by throwing salt on John. Though the pair try to run, however, John catches up, and is able to re-capture them.

Then, in the next scene, Libby too is tied up in a room with a group of people who look exactly like John, hinting that the other John we saw earlier was another member of this species looking to impregnate another woman. Libby, meanwhile, is seemingly impregnated by John, who spews some sort of blue light into her mouth.

The final scene, meanwhile, sees Libby in a tank full of bound women. First, she struggles, then realizes she can breathe underwater. She smiles, and the film ends.

So what does the ending of What Lies Below mean? Well, it seems that John is a member of some sort of race of freshwater-dwelling fish people who can disguise themselves as men and walk on land, but are unable to live in saltwater. This explains the lampreys—they are a creature that can adapt from fresh to saltwater, and John is clearly conducting experiments to find out why.

Though they may not be fully adapted to Earth water conditions, John's species seem intent on world domination by impregnating Earth women, all of which for some reason have red hair.

Quite why John has a thing for gingers is not explained. Signal Horizon notes that redheads generate Vitamin D quicker than other hair colors and have higher pain thresholds. What Lies Below director Braden R. Duemmler retweeted that article with the caption, "pretty, pretty, preeetttyyy close."

Pretty, pretty, preeetttyyy close @tracyleepalmer @SignalHorizon #whatliesbelow #netflixhttps://t.co/CYIRP0kbLf

— Braden R. Duemmler (@Director_BRD) April 6, 2021

It should also be noted, however, that saltwater fish are also high in vitamin D (per Medline Plus), so John may think that redheads' higher levels of the vitamin may allow their children to better adapt to Earth waters.

Libby's smile at the end, meanwhile, is ambiguous. Either she has quickly accustomed to a world where she can breathe underwater, or she is smiling because she is still alive, and is hatching a plan to get her revenge on John and/or to stop his species' invasion of Earth.

What Lies Below is streaming now on Netflix.