I’d tell you not to bother with Beneath the Leaves, except I watched it through to the end. It comes close to being good, but doesn’t make it.
Mira Sorvino as Det. Erica Shotwell is what attracted me to this mystery thriller. Plus, her father Paul Sorvino plays her boss in the film. With two such fine actors in a film, it is bound to be good, right?
The story has the proper elements to be a thriller, but they aren’t put together in a coherent way. There are symbolic elements like fingernails, birds, and apple trees that don’t quite work as they should. The plot jolts around among events that don’t connect quickly enough or deliver the right emotional punch.
There are abused foster children. Two sets of them intersect over the course of the story. I’ll leave one set spoiler free for the big reveal at the end.
The other set of foster children were 4 boys who considered themselves brothers. As adults they were Det. Brian Larson (Kristoffer Polaha), who was Erica Shotwell’s partner, Josh (Ser’Darius Blain), Matt (Christopher Backus), and George (Christopher Masterson). As children, they were kidnapped and tortured in a cave.
Because of a fire at a prison, the bad guy who had tortured the 4 foster brothers, James Whitley (Doug Jones), was on the loose. He still wanted to kill all four of them so they could be in heaven with their real parents. The cops were after Whitley.
There were quite a number of mentally ill people in this story. Which might help explain why the motivations and actions of some of the characters seemed a bit random and disconnected. There was no understanding the characters in this one. Possibly that indicates that the point of Beneath the Leaves is that being a foster child scars you so badly you suffer forever. I’m not guaranteeing that as the correct interpretation of this film.
Other important characters (not necessarily mentally ill) included Det. Abrams (Aaron Farb) and motel owner Rose (Melora Walters).
With so many excellent things available on Netflix and other streamers, there’s really no reason to put this at the top of your watchlist. But if you’re inclined to support Mira Sorvino, as I am, then give it a chance.
Watch the trailer
Did you watch Beneath the Leaves? What did you think of it?