The Truth Below



Deadly avalanche unearths sex and disturbing behavior.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

While there's some cooperation among characters as a means to survival, the overall message is dark and ominous: Everyone has secrets, and you can't always trust your friends.

Positive role models

Most of the main characters are flawed, with dark secrets of varying degrees. One is repeatedly dishonest and sadistic and lets a friend die on purpose.


A character commits murder by letting his friend die on purpose. Some blood, multiple deaths, fistfights, and injuries.


Sexual slang like "titties," "morning wood," "knobber," and "full-blown Stallone." References to rape, masturbation, and sex with a teacher. No actual nudity, but bare skin suggests it, and there's simulated sex to the point of orgasm. Also simulated masturbation and discussion of incest.


In addition to sexual terms, words like "bitch," "douche," etc. are used.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Implied binge drinking by college-age characters, with empty beer bottles, etc., and references to doing Jell-O shots. At a frat party, a girl is "roofied" and raped (although the crime isn't shown). Several characters smoke "weed" in the car.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a dark and ultimately tragic tale involving college-age friends on spring break. Violence and sex (from roofie-assisted rape to a student-teacher affair) play heavily into the plot, and while there's neither much blood nor actual nudity, viewers do see murder, death, simulated sex and masturbation, and suggested nudity. Characters use sexual slang like "titties," "morning wood," "knobber," and "full-blown Stallone," in addition to words like "douche" and "bitch." There's also implied binge-drinking, along with characters who smoke pot.

Kids say

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What's the story?

On their way back to campus after a spring break ski trip, college friends Jenna (Gillian Zinser), Ethan (Reid Ewing), Dante (Nick Thurston), and Liam (Rick Mabe) have an accident on the ice and find themselves buried alive in their vehicle under a mound of tightly packed snow. As each character begins to reveal shocking secrets, THE TRUTH BELOW the surface proves much more frightening than the group's deadly predicament.

Is it any good?


For a television movie, The Truth Below is surprisingly effective, thanks in large part to disturbing content that keeps you interested … not so much in the sometimes-sickening scenarios that play out, but rather in how much worse they'll actually get. But parents should consider themselves warned: The same content that might morbidly fascinate an adult could also give impressionable teens some seriously warped ideas when it comes to sex and human behavior.

While we don't want to give too much away, we do feel the need to mention that one of the characters' secrets involves him masturbating with a pair of his sister's underwear and, in turn, imagining having sex with her. His confession rightly disturbs his friends, but that's only the beginning of their increasingly deadly game and the "truths" that rise to the surface.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the roles that sex and violence play in these characters' lives, particularly in their darkest secrets. Is there a relationship between the severity of each character's secret and what happens to them in the end? What message does that send about bad behavior and negative consequences?

  • What are the real-life consequences of binge drinking and drug use? Does the movie downplay them to any degree?

  • If you ever found yourself in a smiliar situation, how would you react? What would you have done differently to ensure your survival? Could these characters have made better choices from the start to produce a different outcome?

TV details

Cast:Gillian Zinser, Nick Thurston, Reid Ewing
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:Streaming

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  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byCareful but open August 30, 2011

Claustrophobic, black and no redeeming qualities

4 university-aged children are trapped under an avalanche in a car. They share "truth or dare" type stories in order to get to know each other better as they wonder if they are about to die. This movie is claustrophobic at the bare minimum, and while some might think it a "good dose of reality" about people, it shows people regressing to their worst, rather than best, qualities. The characters ignore each other's most basic needs. They insult each other. Spoiler alert! One character lets another die on purpose by denying him is asthma medicine. I found the blackness of this movie was not compensated by lessons about how people can be harmful in stressful situations, but still come out with a grain of humanity. I think kids today can do better than this movie would leave you believing. And it is INTENSELY claustrophobic.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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