‘Beneath Us’ Narrates The Dangers The Undocumented Face While Chasing The American Dream
We know undocumented immigrants are often mistreated but these stories have not made a major impact in mainstream media. Newspapers have reported horrific stories on the enslavement of undocumented immigrants, families who hid the dead bodies of undocumented immigrants, and many cases of physical violence against undocumented immigrants. Though these stories have made newspaper headlines, these stories are not at the center of most discussions. And with the presidential elections fastly approaching, most candidates have yet to thoroughly discuss their position on immigration and what they are willing to change to ensure the safety of immigrants.
Producers Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero took the horrors that undocumented immigrants are experiencing daily and turned those stories into social-horror film, “Beneath Us.” Their hope is to put the topic of undocumented immigration front and center with a blended genre that also gets people thinking.
Producers Chris Lemos and Luis Guerrero wanted to get involved with a project that captured an authentic look into undocumented labor.
Producers Lemos and Guerrero say they immediately wanted to get involved.
“We don’t want to do what everybody else is doing in the industry,” Guerrero told mitú. “We are not reinventing the wheel, by any means, we want to be able to focus and tell stories that are different, they might have a different twist, a different take, if you will, with characters on the screen that look like us. This was that.”
The producers want to use the movie as a vehicle to encourage a conversation about the current immigration crisis.
“There are politics behind it but there’s a bigger picture behind the message of the movie which is, to us, he who has the power will always exploit,” Guerrero explains. “I think that’s relatable in every aspect of our society.”
Lemos explained that the movie’s message only got stronger as the movie was being made. By the time the movie was completed, the immigration crisis became major news as Americans protested the treatment of migrants at the southern border.
Lemos says “Beneath Us” is a film that falls in the horror-social issues genre.
Lemos points to the long history that horror movies have with social issues, going back to classics like “Rosemary’s Baby,” that spoke on women’s reproductive rights, and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” which commented on America’s growing fear of Communism. For Lemos, “Beneath Us” is meant to fill that role in today’s society when speaking about the debate on how to better protect undocumented laborers.
“We were both born and raised in the LA area and, like most major cities around the country, we’ve seen the undocumented workers hanging out at the Home Depot or the Lowe’s parking lots,” Lemos says. “You start wondering, ‘What if somebody didn’t bring them back? Who’s looking out for them? Who can they call for help?’ They can’t really call the cops. They’re afraid to be reported. If they run toward someone covered in blood and are the victim of some crime, people are more likely to run away from them than help them.”
During the production of this film, Lemos and Guerrero started learning more about how much the undocumented laborers put themselves in danger.
Credit: Beneath Us / Vital Pictures
The two producers have long known parts of the stories of undocumented laborers. Like many Americans, Lemos and Guerrero believed these workers just worked quick jobs at family homes and may have even feared what they might do. It wasn’t until the two started working on this movie that they realized that there was an untold story, a story of desperation and exploitation.
“I’ve never really considered the other side of the coin on the exchange of labor and money at the hardware store…,” Lemos recalls. Undocumented workers were putting themselves at risk. I thought about the time my mom hired a few of them to help us out while we were moving when I was younger, and they blindly got into the car with her, not knowing where they’d end up. Anything could have happened to them. It’s literally like the set up to a horror movie, and it happens every day.”
“It definitely gave me a deeper understanding in terms of the danger that they put themselves into,” Guerrero recalls. “It gave me more of a first look in terms of what could really happen to them, danger-wise. We sort of forget. But I think when it was in front of us and we were experiencing it, even though it was a movie, I couldn’t help but feel like it was real.”
“Beneath Us” will be in theaters on March 6 to tell a story many have never considered. You can watch the trailer below.
What do you think about the “Beneath Us” and the tale the movie tells?