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RELEASED: 2000, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 130 mins
DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis
PRODUCERS: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey & Robert Zemeckis
SCREENPLAY: Clark Gregg
MUSIC: Alan Silvestri
Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire Spencer
Harrison Ford as Norman Spencer
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Since her car accident, Claire Spencer has been giving her husband Norman some cause for concern.
After her daughter goes away to college, Claire begins to see and hear things in the lovely old house in which her and Norman live, after having inherited it from his father who died a couple of years previously.
Initially, Claire believes the things she is seeing and hearing are as a result of her new next door neighbours getting up to strange things, but after having some therapy and an ouija board session with a friend, she becomes more and more convinced that the old house she shares with Norman is haunted.
During Claire's quest to find out what is really happening, some well-kept and disturbing secrets rise to the surface.
That sets the scene....watch it yourself to discover more.
What Lies Beneath is one of these films where, before watching, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
From the outset, the scene is set very well. Claire's vulnerability after seeing her daughter off to college plus still suffering the psychological after-effects of a serious car accident two years earlier, shows through. She tries to be strong, but relies heavily for emotional support on Norman, her scientist husband.
The film is set in a beautiful location, in a lovely house by a picturesque lake, and for me that was one of the better aspects once the proceedings got fully underway.
The first half of What Lies Beneath, I found to be quite intriguing, it not being immediately obvious (at least it wasn't to me) whether Claire is imagining things due to her emotional fragility, or whether something spooky really is afoot. As is often the case, Norman - being the man - is sceptical of Claire's ever growing conviction that the old house is haunted.
Once the halfway point was reached, I didn't begin to lose interest in the film as it was entertaining enough to keep me going until the end, but I was expecting something much more powerful and convincing. From that halfway point, I began to get a bit confused as to what was really going on, and wasn't sure how certain things linked up with certain other things....they did become clearer later on, but not in a feasible, or particularly enjoyable way.
As the film progressed, although I wouldn't go as far as to say that the storyline became ludicrious, it did beggar belief on one or two issues, and because things veered off in what for me was the wrong direction, it lost a fair bit of credibility.
Although it was fine at first, after a while, Michelle Pfeiffer's acting began to grate on my nerves. It was as if she herself somehow lost the plot, and it seemed to me that in the parts of the film where her acting should have been more laid-back, she began to over-dramatise - yet, during the parts where I feel she should have let it all hang out (figuratively speaking!), she came across like a damp squib. As for Harrison Ford, he too was fairly OK during the first part of the film, but became less and less convincing, almost to the point of painful ridiculousness, especially towards the end. He just wasn't right for the part at all, seeming like a fish out of water....that role definitely wasn't for him.
The other actors, all of whom are incidental rather than crucial to the storyline, delivered their lines with a wooden quality which I found uncomfortable. From the point during the film where everything began to fall apart after the rather gripping introduction, I was hoping for a miracle whereby at least one cast member would stun me with their acting brilliance, but it just didn't happen. Overall, my favourite character was Cooper, the boxer dog!
However, despite the increasingly weak plot as What Lies Beneath progresses, it did entertain me at least to a satisfactory degree, although I don't think I'd feel inclined to watch it again. It does seem as if this is one of those films that you either love or hate, as I've read very mixed reviews/opinions on various internet websites, but I'm sort of in the middle. It certainly is by no means a great, or even a particularly good film, but is watchable enough to while away couple of hours, although I do feel it could benefit from being shorter as the plot does drag beyond its usefulness.
I'd have enjoyed What Lies Beneath a lot more had it stayed in the vein which the first half delivered, but it veering off into something akin to poorly acted madness did shatter my initial expectations.
In summary, perhaps this film would have fared a lot better with a different production/direction team, a few tweaks to the screenplay and better acting. It is worth watching, but don't expect the rather good beginning to evolve into anything even remotely close to a cinematic masterpiece.
At the time of writing, What Lies Beneath can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.49 to £24.99
Used: from 1p to £2.00
Collectible: Four copies currently available from £1.49 to £4.99
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
I started watching this film on a lazy night in with the other half while munching on some popcorn and to be perfectly honest, I was not too impressed. The film started with the lives of an ordinary couple who have just sent their daughter off to college. There is some evident history associated with the wife, Claire Spencer, played by an impressive Michelle Pfeiffer, who has had an accident a year ago. As Claire spends more time at home (since she is a retired concert cellist) without her husband Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) who is always busy with work, she starts to hear voices and see things. She tells her husband this and he sends her to see a therapist to whom she explains that she has seen a ghost. The therapist advises her to contact the spirit. As the plot unfolds Claire tries to figure out who the ghost is and believes it may have something to do with her new neighbours, who seem very suspicious.
On the face of it, the concept of the film is nothing ground breaking, but the storyline for this particular film was made bearable by the brilliant acting by the two leads and I wonder why they chose to do this role in a film heavily let down by it's directing. For a lack of a better word, the story is very slow. I honestly think that at one point I was far more interested in eating the popcorn and the film was distracting me...Ok, so that is a bit of an exaggeration, but the film really needed something to make it tick along a bit faster. There were lots of unnecessary scenes in the film that really didn't serve any purpose apart from making the film longer (the runtime of the film is 130 minutes!).
A great positive for the film is that there is not an overuse of blood and the scary parts make you jump rather than cringe, which for me is the best type of horror film. I enjoyed some of the tension created by the pauses, but I think these were used a bit too much and in the end I was just waiting for the film to end.
Although I have said that the storyline isn't ground breaking, I feel that if the history of the characters was made slightly clearer and a few questions were answered, then the story would flow much nicer and keep the viewer's interest for more than a few minutes at a time.
However, for all the good acting in the film and the sometimes quite brilliant camera work, the ending of this film is extremely predictable and drags on (and yes, several horror film clichés are present), even though it is obvious what will happen next. My boyfriend and I had guessed the ending a good half an hour before the film actually ended. We considered switching it off, but willed ourselves to watch it.
Overall, if you are looking for a good film to watch while relaxing at home or if you just want to kill a bit of time, believe me this is not the film to do so, however if you are watching this with a friend or your other half, then I guess it may be an ok idea because you don't really need to be watching the whole time to get an idea of what's going on.
This review may appear on other sites under the same username.
After a recent relocation to Vermont, Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her husband Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) are finding it difficult to settle in. This isn't aided by Claire's curious and worrying nature. After witnessing her new neighbour in tears she immediately thinks that something is severely wrong and that she could be in danger. Ever since the incident, Claire has had strange and unexplained things happen to her, which her husband assumes is to do with issues from her past.
What if their past has come back to haunt them?...
Released in the year 2000 to a largely positive reception, What Lies Beneath isn't your average horror film. Here, we don't witness young college students being traumatised from seeing their friend bludgeoned to death with a chainsaw, nor do we see said college students participating in promiscuous activities. Of course, the big giveaway that this isn't your average horror movie is, yep, you guessed it, no masks. With that in mind, What Lies Beneath reaches out to a decidedly different audience, one that wants more than blood and guts in a horror movie, instead these people want a storyline that they can latch onto and become enthralled with, with twists and turns and jumpy moments galore and, to that end, What Lies Beneath delivers on all fronts.
What Lies Beneath dips its toes into the thriller and the psychological horror genre and it works a treat. There are scares galore in this film, although it may not be the most visually frightening film you've ever witnessed, this film manages to get into your head and with Michelle Pfeiffer playing such a convincing role you feel unnerved for a large portion of this film. What this film does excellently is take you by surprise, ok, so there are some moments which are textbook horror scenarios that you're likely to see in any Hitchcock or Craven film, then again, there are some genuinely jumpy moments to keep you on tenterhooks and you're never likely to know what's about to happen next with this film which is part of its brilliance. The unpredictability doesn't just count for the scares though as the storyline really delivers this aspect too, almost to perfection, infact. As the film begins you assume it's going down a certain path (think, Disturbia, but for grownups), however, before long, the storyline has evolved and is travelling down an unexpected and exciting route that only picks up tension as it progresses.
The storyline in the film is excellent and will have you guessing for its entirety. There are so many ways that this storyline could have gone, but fortunately it goes down an utterly convincing and believable path to thrill audiences of all ages and interests. What Lies Beneath isn't what could be described as a fast paced thriller, there are no car chases, shootouts or indeed, dead bodies, however, that's not to say that this film is dull. It couldn't be more opposite, infact. This film is what could be described as a slow burner, but the plot is so rich and developed that there are incidents, large or small, around every corner that the pace of this film never falters and what you're left with is a tense, taut and most of all memorable thriller. If there was any criticism for the storyline, it would be that it doesn't seem to go far enough at times. Yes, this film does resonate with audiences, however, it doesn't get in your head as much as it should do. It's the atmosphere that really pulls you into this movie, the dark and dreary setting of the beautiful house on the lake goes a long way for this film, however, it's all a bit too familiar. The sun is, of course, never shining throughout the film as it would appear that rain and mist is all that you ever get in Vermont. It sets the scene well though and helps to pull you into the story.
Red herrings play a rather sizeable part in What Lies Beneath and that's where some fragilities in the story rear their ugly heads. Some of the red herrings (not giving anything away) are presented very well and extremely convincingly, however, others leave much to be desired and are left unexplained and out of place. The red herrings do help to elevate the films tension though which can't be a bad thing as it leaves you wondering what's going to happen and it's for real, or is Claire's husband right in saying that she's delusional. You can't say this film isn't coherent though as everything in the film ties in together nicely, even if some of the smaller, less important red herrings are left unanswered. This is still a satisfying outing in the horror/thriller genre and isn't likely to have you asking questions at the end.
This is one of the few horror movies, that, as aforementioned, doesn't include a bunch of good looking and often, busty college students parading around half naked without a smidge of acting talent to be found. What Lies Beneath gives us two huge A-Listers in the form of Pfeiffer and Ford. Pfeiffer takes the lead and is on top form as the bumbling and jittery housewife who begins to be completely taken over by the strange goings on that are happening around her, that, strangely, her husband has no experience of. She encapsulates the role of Claire and her nervous energy really rubs off onto the audience, leaving them a nervous wreck by the time the film has finished. Ford, on the other hand, doesn't have a lot to do in this film and plays more of a supporting role to his female counterpart. Ford does convince as the husband who's coming to his wits end as his wife continues to obsess over what supernatural being is causing this mayhem. Both main characters are fully developed, with pasts that, although may not seem relevant early on in the film, come to play a sizeable part as the film progresses and as a result these two characters resonate well with audiences.
For chilling tension and an edge of your seat finale this film is superb and delivers on all counts. Unfortunately, it does fail to penetrate your insecurities and doubt as well as it should, but What Lies Beneath is unquestionably a superb thriller and the execution undoubtedly lives up to the premise.
Running time: 124 minutes. Director: Robert Zemeckis.
Released: 2000. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford,
Miranda Otto, James Remar, Katherine Towne and Diana Scarwid.
When I first saw this movie I thought it was one of the most scary movies I had ever seen, but I was quite young at the time. Even when I watch it now it still makes me jump.
Michelle Pfeiffer, stars as Claire Spencer, a retired musician, who has just sent her only daughter off to collage. With her husband Norman (Harrison Ford) at work, Claire is left alone. Soon she starts to hear voices and begins to think that maybe she isn't alone after all. Claire becomes suspicious of their neighbours, the Feurs, and starts to think that something terrible has happened to the woman next-door. With doors opening on their own and pictures smashing, she tells her husband that she thinks there is some sort of presence in their house. He quickly dismisses her claims and says it would be a good idea to see a shrink. Claire takes the therapists' advice and tries to make contact with the spirit. Along with her best friend, Claire tries out a Ouija board and uncovers the truth about what is in her house. After going to a party, Claire begins to remember her car accident a year ago, and what she had found out about her husband.
What lies beneath is truly a great thriller, and I will never tire of watching it. What I like most about this movie is the thrilling plot and storyline. I absolutely love Michelle Pfeiffer in this movie and I think her performance was brilliant.
The film starts off slowly, but as you continue to watch it the pace quickens and the tension builds. What lies beneath is one of those movies that even though it is a thriller and it does make you jump out of your seat, you can't help loving it.
What Lies Beneath is a film that stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfiffer as a couple who live in a nice house next to a large lake. They play Norman and Claire Spencer, a happy, married couple with no problems and a great life.
Norman is a scientist and Claire became his stay at home wife, more so since a car accident a couple of years ago, which has caused Claire to have some memory loss of the night on which the accident happened. Claire seems to think that her house is haunted, and starts seeing things happening around the house that cause her to believe this more and more, but her husband just puts it down to effects of the accident, until things start to get weirder, and his wife behaviour over the whole situation gets more and more erratic.
Who exactly is the ghost that haunts their home, and why are they there in the first place? Is it someone who just passed away in the house, or is there something more sinister underlying the situation, and what exactly does the lake have to do with it all?
I personally love this film, and it is very jumpy, scares the heck out of me everytime I watch it, and I know whats coming lol! The film is done in a really clever way which makes you think about a lot of things, and I really did not see the ending coming, nor did I actually see the twists in the plot, which made it an even better film for me. I think the acting is done really well, with a great performance from all in the film, from the smallest parts all the way up to the main stars.
This film is rated a 15, and is available on Amazon for less than £5, so you can get a great film for a bargain price, which I am sure you will enjoy over and over again.
What lies beneath
Runningtime: 130 minutes
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Country: United States
Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire Spencer
Harrison Ford as Dr. Norman Spencer
Diana Scarwid as Jody
Miranda Otto as Mary Feur
James Remar as Warren Feur
The story is about Clair Spencer who lives together with her husband Dr. Norman Spencer in Vermont. She has had a serious accident and can't remember everything what happened the last few years. Her daughter just left the house to go to college, while suddenly she and her husband are alone in the house and Clair is starting to hear and see things. First she starts to worry about her neighbour who she has heard crying and suddenly she hasn't seen her anymore. But also in the house she starts to hear things and strange things are happening. When she sees a woman in the reflection of the window, she knows something is wrong. Together with a friend she holds a séance and the outcome will confirm what she has thought all along.
With a thriller the acting is very important. If the actors don't across believable and the whole movie feels fake and you don't get into the fear of the story. I thought the actors where really good and believable. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the lead as Claire Spencer, the wife of Norman Spencer. It looks like you becoming crazy when she starts to see and hear things. Nobody believes her and she don't understand if herself. I liked her acting and she really came across that she was going mental. Another actor who made an impression was Harrison Ford, who plays the part of Norman Spencer. I liked the way he acted and was very believable. At one side he wants to support and believe his wife, but on the other hand he's thinking she's going crazy. Good actors who really made the movie work.
Unfortunately there are no extras on the DVD.
A really nice good old fashion thriller where strange things are happening in a house, which make people crazy! We have seen this theme a thousand times before, but I'm still loving it. I really enjoyed the movie and the story and it felt creepy. I never like the idea of something like this happening in my own house. But the story develops well and you start to doubt if Claire is crazy or not. The actors came across really believable and showed their emotions well. The movie has a running time of 130 minutes, which is quiet long and here and there the movie gets a little bit slow, but picks it up in the middle of the movie. Good scary movie!
Damn, I'm fairly churning these puppies out today. Found some old film stubs and decided to scrape out my brain & review 'em. Lucky you.
If memory serves, What Lies Beneath is actually pretty good. A suitably shocking trailer, a bored artist, a rainy day and BAM! I'm in the theatre, and trying desperately to forget Harrison Ford in Air Force One.
We start with establishing the characters: Michelle Pfeiffer and 'Ford are married, have just sent their daughter to college, and have 'weird' neighbours moving in next door. They live in a stupifyingly nice Maine house next to a lake, beutiful vistas etc. Now that daughter has left home and husband is at work all day, wife is starting to go increasingly loopy... or is she? Are the neighbours really murdering each other? Is there a ghost? What's going on?
And the movie continues in this vein, the tension ever increasing as revelation follows startling discovery follows horrific apparition. Doubtless other ops you read on this will ruin the twists and turns, but suffice to say that the perspective of the viewer shifts every five minutes as the plot throws up another surprise. By the time the final twist is revealed, you don't know who to trust. The horror is of the lull-and-leap variety; if you really want to pick holes, you can anticipate the shocks by waiting for a character to something mundane. (The same technique also works for The Sixth Sense, if you're interested.) Why you would bother to ruin an otherwise fine cinematic experience in beyond me.
Both leads are faultless, especially Ford. He erases the memory of That Presidential Hijack Movie and more, finally escaping typecasting as Jack Ryan. This is definitely no Clear And Present Haunting. Pfeiffer is less memorable, but holds the movie together neatly. I wish I could say more, but...
Part ghost story, part detective thriller, part horror shocker.
What Lies Beneath? Dangerous Undercurrents, that's what...
This movie scared the crap out of me when I first saw it! It is one of those scary movies that have a lot of jump out at you scenes that scare you just for that simple fact. I am not usually a fan of scary movies where things jump out at you, making your heart stop for a moment, but this movie actually had a very intriguing and entertaining storyline.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays the wife Claire, and Harrison Ford, who plays Claire's husband Norman do an excellent job playing each of their roles in this film. Claire and Norman have just sent their daughter away to college, leaving Claire a little lonely and lost. Norman works long hours at the college where he is doing genetic research, so Claire is alone a lot of the time. She begins becoming unnerved when strange things start to happen in her home. She believes that someone or something is trying to contact her from a different realm.
When she tells this theory to Norman he believes that she is having some sort of mental breakdown and asks her to talk to a psychiatrist. Of course the psychiatrist doesn't believe anything Claire is saying either. He agrees with Norman that she is having hallucinations due to the stress of her daughter leaving home. However, Claire is still not convinced as the supernatural visits get much stronger. Claire begins researching the different clues left by the unknown source and becomes obsessed with the idea that the supernatural happenings have something to do with the unsolved disappearance of a young woman who was a student at a nearby college who looks a lot like Claire herself
However, the farther Claire digs, the more danger she puts herself into, until she is hunted by someone that is most definitely alive and ready to kill her to keep their secret intact.
This movie is suspenseful and beyond frightening. It is not one of those gory scary movies that are only scary because of their blood and guts factor. This story actually has a plot that will make you shake in your boots.
I actually got this DVD as a freebie when I signed up for a newsletter for a website a few years ago. I'm a huge fan of psychological thrillers and when I read up on the synopsis for What Lies Beneath I was looking forward to it.
... The Film - General ...
What lies beneath is a supernatural thriller directed by Robert Zemeckis in 2000. Zemeckis has produced several highly acclaimed films such as Gothika, The Frighteners, Cast Away, The Polar Express, House On Haunted Hill & Boewulf. He knows the thriller genre well and his experience shows through this film. It's rated certificate 15 as there is some violence and 'scary' scenes. The DVDs special features include an audio commentary by Zemeckis, original theatrical trailor, cast/crew bios & production notes, and a featurette for "constructing the perfect thriller".
... The Plot ...
I don't want to give too much away but over the 124 minutes you're kept on tenderhooks as to what's going on and how it's going to end. The film is based on married couple, Dr Norman Spencer (played by Harrison Ford) and Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer). Spencer has previously cheated on his wife but it seems the lies and betral are behind them when their lives and marriage are blissful. That is until Claire starts noticing some strange goings on within their home. She hears voices and sees ghostly visions, but her husband is quick to dismiss this as delusion. Knowing that there's more to it, Claire goes in search of the truth and and the story unravells it's apparent that something or someone is after the 'happy' couple.
... Cast & Production ...
The lead roles were perfectly matched to Pfeiffer and Ford who are very believable throughout. With two A-list actors heading the film, their strength shines through and is further strengthed by the clearcut scenes and well-chosen music. The film is seemlessly sewn together to make the storyline easy to follow whilst building up tension and atmosphere through the subtle camera angles and crisp soundtrack.
... Overall ...
A beautifully presented thriller with a twist, this film is a great example of a clear-cut film. Some moments in the film may be slightly quiet/slow which some may feel to be negative, but I think that it may actually have the opposite effect by adding to the suspense.
Everything fits together and you'll feel satisfied at having watched a quality film that keeps you in suspense until the end.
Nervous housewife Claire is being bothered by things that go bump in the night. Her daughter has just done the off to university, and her Professor husband Norman spends too many hours in the office. They've recently renovated Norman's fathers house on the lake. Initially, Claire puts the strange occurrences in their house down to the Fuer's who live next door. Mr Fuer is a strange hulking character with a nasty temper, and Mrs Fuer is a neurotic woman who appears to have disappeared. However, messages on the bathroom mirrors and flickering lights soon reveal something closer to home at play.
What Lies Beneath was one of many similarly paced thrillers that emerged in the late 90s. Owing much of its premise and atmosphere to the Hitchcockian thriller, director Robert Zemeckis shows great flair for the pent up tension as well as nerve-jolting chills. He's also adept at creating a fraught, yet convincing chemistry between his leads.
Like the double layered title, Clark Gregg's script has hidden depths that you have to have a second viewing to fully grasp. Initially, this is a thriller about what a woman sees over the back fence, but soon reveals that most of the horror's can be traced back to your own back garden. There's a labyrinth of information revealed throughout the film that is often surprising and yet most often believable.
The film is excellently paced too. An all too comfortable opening gives way to a slow paced but tension building middle third, and then a nerve shredding finale which hits the accelerator and doesn't stop til it crashes to a poignant hault. Even the final shot is a subtle ode to the rest of the film, and as the film blacks out to roll the credits, you get a tiny aftermath of the horror's revealed throughout. There are a few red herrings thrown into the mix as well, all of which are carried through to a satisfying explanation.
Its always a thrill to see Michelle Pfeiffer in anything, given that she has appeared in so few big screen outings in recent years. Her role as Claire Spencer is excellent, as she jangles on her nerves. She's not the greatest actress in the world, and her voice is somewhat grating, but she plays to her strengths in this role, and you actually feel yourself tense up and thump your fists in frustration as you will her away from her tormentor.
Harrison Ford is able in his role as husband and devil's advocate. He togles ably between a role of support and that small sinister side that he occasionally displays. His role as much more low-key than Pfeiffer's, as she is required to scream and pant, whilst he only has to rub his stubble in confusion while squinting at his increasingly delusional wife in frustration.
Of the supporting cast, Diana Scarwid is the best in a role that is minor but major enough to be important. She's quirky and engaging in her scene's, and gets a few funny's to throw in along the way.
The film is set on a beautiful lake in Vermont. The watery backdrop, the big old creaky house, and a subsequent trip to the local fishing village Adamant all make the film perfectly frosty, making the warmth felt is in the relationship between the increasingly fragile Claire and her concerned loved one's all the more important. There are also excellent, but subtle, special effects on display. One of which requires the face of Pfeiffer to distort and become somebody else's face. This is so seamlessly done and brief that if you blink, you'll miss it.
The result of Zemeckis' feature film is a spooky and believable ghost story that calls upon all the classic thrillers and fits in perfectly with the modern spat of intelligent thrillers that focus on plot rather than gore and mayhem. Aside from The Sixth Sense, this was one of the best thrillers to come out of the late 90's Hollywood thriller machine.
The DVD is available in a special plastic slipcase which has a 3-D effect with a message that appears on Claire's mirror. The special features have an Audio Commentary by the films director which is a pleasure to listen to. He explains how many of the simple effects are created, and its interesting to hear him speak about the chemistry between the leads. There is also a simple cast and crew biography, the trailer and a documentary on how the perfect thriller is created.
Middle class couple: he (Harrison Ford) an overpaid science researcher, she (Michelle Pfeiffer) a an ex-classical musician who gave up her profession to support hubby and bring up offspring who leaves for university. The couple have been renovating the old house that seems haunted to the wife but Hubby doesn't believe in ghosts because he has a scientific mind and he soon books her in for some shrink sessions. But she's having none of it and, influenced by a friend, it's not long before the Ouija board is out and the candles are lit. There are also some creepy neighbours who initially fall under suspicion of the wife.
The film starts off at a steady pace. We get to know the characters, what they do where they live, how rich they are. The storyline is convincing until Pfeiffer starts jumping onto her husband in a frenzy or into the lake in the middle of the night and there are just too many visits to the bathroom. The spooky ghost becomes a silly one in the end.
The film trudges along nicely until halfway when all sense of direction is lost. It's as if the screenwriters didn't know what to do next and so it seems like director Robert Zemeck just made the final scenes up as he went along. In the end you don't really care about the story or what happens to who.
Michelle Pfeiffer plays a convincing role as spooked housewife Claire Spencer until her eyes start turning green and she spends most of her time walking around in a wet nighty. Harrison Ford with his usual wooden face and wooden acting mumbles his lines throughout and is still in need of a proper haircut.
This was of an acceptable standard, although the special effects are a bit cheesy at times.
It's not a film you can take seriously even if you're a fan of typical Hollywood horror movies. There are just too many ridiculous, unbelievable or tiresome predictable scenes in the latter part of the movie.
Claire Spencer: There's a ghost in my house... ... She looked like me, only she had green eyes.
Summed up in a word: Shite
© Zmugzy December 2007
Starring: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, et al. Director: Robert Zemeckis Runtime: 124 minutes Synopsis: A year ago, Claire had an accident that left her oblivious to her husband, Norman's adultery. Their marriage had always been so perfect. With the affair long since over, Norman thinks everything can continue as before; but not when Claire starts hearing voices and witnessing apparitions in their home. As Claire unwittingly stumbles upon more and more of Norman's dishonesty, it becomes obvious the ghostly figure will not go away. It has come back to taunt Norman, and to take revenge on he and his wife. **OPINION: Picture a see-saw with What Lies Beneath director Robert Zemeckis on one end and Alfred Hitchcock on the other. We all know who would be on the ground, but then Hitchcocks films have a lot in common with his backside on our imaginary see-saw; they were always very much down to earth. Instead of concentrating on putting his own stamp of originality on this production, Robert Zemeckis went to astonishing lengths to ensure Hitchcock comparisons were inevitable. As if the bathroom scenes towards the end of the film weren't obvious enough, the musical score is unmistakibly Psycho-esque. This begs the question: do Zemeckis' skills really lie in directing or should he perhaps focus on a career in marketing? Marketing strategy would certainly explain the pairing of Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford. They may both have undeniable talent and mass audience appeal, but sadly, the chemistry between them could only be described as pH Neutral. It was hardly a pairing of Hitchcock proportions. If Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint were this interesting, North by Northwest would've been an instant flop. Why? Because Hitchcock often relied on chemistry alone. A simple gaze from the eyes of Eva Marie Saint was used to maintain suspense during a train buffet scene in that film
. So why did such simple direction techniques go well and truly over the head of Zemeckis? Why does his film rely more on sensation than subtlety if it's supposed to be a thriller of such Hitchcock proportions? If Zemeckis was trying to complement or emulate Hitchcock, he failed miserably. Unlike with Psycho, you wont be entertained by the psychotic eccentricities of an oddball; unlike Vertigo, the supernatural occurrences don't turn out to have a realistic explanation. Pfeiffer however, does manage to engineer a truly convincing performance; an act which carries this film and ultimately makes it watchable. Considering such textbook horror techniques are used to enthrall, Pfeiffers ability goes a long way to supressing the cheese factor that could so easily have ensued. I feel compelled to keep the analogous see-saw balanced by giving What Lies Beneath three out of five stars because it should be such an unmovable, mediocre horror film. However , I've given it four stars because Pfeiffers performance does off-balance things a little by giving the film some grounding; she certainly makes it more believable and entertaining than most Hollywood flicks of this genre.
I do. I didn't like this. It has been a while since I saw this at the cinema and to be honest, it didn't really do much for me at the time and I wouldn't have been interested in the DVD were it not a freebie from Fox.co.uk...if you're quick they might still be offering a choice of it, Doctor Doolittle or The Full Monty just for signing up to their free newsletter... Anyway, I wasn't impressed by the movie which came in the wake of The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense and was obviously trying to cash in on the big business which these two movies generated at the box office. Compared to either, it's lame - there are few shocks, few surprises and without Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the two main roles and Robert Zemeckis in the director's chair I can't see it would have been anywhere near so well received as it was by many viewers. It's a ghost story, billed as a tense, suspense filled chiller which in actual fact offers few surprises and little in the way of ghostly goings on either for that matter. Director Robert Zemeckis doesn't usually do this kind of thing and to be honest, it shows! I suppose if you don't like being scared by ghost stories then this is the movie for you, everyone else, well, it's watchable and the story is interesting, if obvious, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see it. The general plot is something I'm going to skip over so as not to give anything away for those who are interested in watching. You basically have Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford moving in to a new house and Pfeiffer hearing voices and seeing things which leaves her questioning whether she is losing it, or whether there is a presence in the house and if so, what does it want with them? Yes it's a lot more complex than that, but frankly, the interesting plot is one of the few things which keeps this movie's head above water so I'm not going to say a
ny more, suffice to say, it does twist and turn and is interesting, if a little on the damn obvious side if you follow the pointers. The acting performances from those involved are all great, Pfeiffer and Ford can always be relied upon and there is a fair amount of chemistry between them leaving you under no impression that they are anything less than a happily married couple and the supporting cast, not that they are around much, are solid. If you watch closely you'll notice references to Hitchcock slipped into the screenplay frequently as well which is kinda cool, particularly if you are a fan...and especially for me at the moment because I'm working my way through his movies which I haven't really watched since I was a kid. Technically it's good and technically it's a solid thriller but technically, it doesn't really have any bite to it either and personally, I was bored for the most part because little really happens and there is little promise that anything ever will. I wasn't impressed by some of the red herring elements which are telegraphed way in advance to the point where almost a third of the film is wasted on building one up a sub-plot to an obvious dull conclusion. Nor was I impressed by the little hints and tips throughout as to what was to come which are delivered with an almost sledgehammer obviousness...it's one of those movies which offer you elements early on to piece together the plot...unfortunately, it gives too much away and leaves you drumming your fingers waiting for it to get to the point, worse if you?ve seen the trailer which says far too much! Neither was I impressed by some deus ex machina plot twists which have been implemented to forcibly insert some twists into a screenplay which is otherwise a little devoid of anything exciting at all...but there's the chance you won't notice, Hollywood regularly gets away with similar so probably not in most cases. What I really didn't like about
the movie though was the distinct lack of inventiveness and the even more distinct lack of shocks and tension generated by What Lies Beneath. Zemeckis talks about the slow burn effect in his commentary but frankly, there's a difference between a slow build up of tension and a screenplay which has its audience dropping off to sleep before the inevitable grandstand conclusion! Do you like scary movies? If not, then this is the scary movie for you! That's the bottom line. So What's The DVD Like? (Just a word of warning, most of the extras are jammed full of spoilers so watch the movie first) Picture quality is excellent, crisp clear images and I can't fault it, nor would I expect to be able to on a recent major Hollywood release. Umm, oddly, and perhaps it's my set-up which this is unique to, but the soundtrack seems to be incredibly quiet to the point where I have to crank the sound on my TV up to double normal volume to be able to hear it properly! The menu music is loud though so I have to crank it back down again...grrr. It doesn't make the disc unwatchable, I mean, once the film has started you'll only need to change the volume once, but it's a little 'odd' shall we say. Anyhoo, picture quality and sound are fine other than that and if you choose to watch with subtitles enabled, they are clearly presented with a black background which is always good...I hate it when they just throw white text on the screen and half of it disappears amongst the background images! Multiple languages can be selected for subtitles...just one for audio. Menu Ahh menus, simple things but can still be annoying. This one makes you sit through something like a 13 second montage of images from the best parts of the movie before you can actually get to the options and again throws in more images when you visit the various sub-menus which is annoying but otherwise it
9;s all pretty simple to navigate around. Extra DVD Features Well...it has some! I've got to be honest, I love the extra features on DVDs and absolutely hate when a really good movie gets released with naff, or no, extra bits and pieces. Yes, I know you really want to watch the film, not a bunch of documentaries etc. but when you're paying often double the price of a video it's kinda nice to get a little something extra too! What Lies Beneath has extras but nothing too exciting, I suppose it doesn't really lend itself to exciting extras, but there you go. It would have been nice to see a little more input from the two main stars but otherwise, nothing less than you'd expect. You get: Director's Commentary Umm, can I say BORING? Can I also say dumb-assed and patronising? Director and producer drone on about the very rare interesting thing whilst occasionally making some of the most bizarre, inane comments I've ever heard. Aside from being enormously pleased to have got Ford and Pfeiffer in the same movie(because according to them, it incredibly rare to see such big Hollywood names in the same movie together...on who?s planet we wonder) they also regularly compare What Lies Beneath favourably with Hitchcock's work, which is fair enough as that's obviously who they were trying to emulate, but please, at least recognise its limitations as well! At one point(rather amusingly) they go so far as to say Hitchcock today wouldn't be able to afford to get the big stars to work with him but Zemeckis would. Haaaaaaa! Zemeckis or Hitchcock...Zemeckis or Hitchcock...I wonder who they, or anyone else in Hollywood, would choose? lol A little too much of the commentary sounded like sucking on Zemeckis? butt to be be honest and frankly, he's good, but he ain't that good at thrillers and given the choice between Hitchcock or Zemeckis I don't think there'd be too many floc
king in his direction! I also got kinda tired of being told, this bit is really clever, this bit everyone laughs at and so on as well. Most annoying was the patronising 'I don't think the audience understood this bit' comments which litter the commentary. It is probably due to the fact that the pairing think their audience isn't that bright that they ended up making such an, arguably very well acted, nicely shot etc. but ultimately rather obvious thriller... This isn't one of those commentaries you can watch whilst continuing to enjoy the movie either, this is one which entirely over-rides the on screen soundtrack which I've never been a fan of. Director's commentaries are something which either work or don't on movies, I guess I was never really into this movie in the first place to really care so you might get a little more out of it than me. it all kinda felt a little too self-congratulatory to me and almost like they were trying to sell the whole thing all over again...and to be honest, after around 30 mins, I found it very difficult to continue concentrating on what they were saying. Apparently the idea was to create the kind of thriller technically beyond Hitchcock which arguably they achieved, unfortunately, they missed out on things like tension, shocks and intrigue. Constructing The Perfect Thriller A short mini-documentary which is more like an extended trailer at the beginning with some actor and director commentaries slipped in and then turns into a brief bio of director Robert Zemeckis. Nothing at all to do with either What Lies Beneath or 'constructing the perfect thriller' for the most part but there you go! It's interesting to be taken on this whistle stop tour of Zemeckis' past movies including the likes of Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Contact, Back To The Future etc. with behind the scenes footage and comments from their stars though and when we do
get back to the movie itself then it's interesting to here what Pfeiffer(Ford was boring) has to say about some of the scenes she was in. Theatrical Trailer I've never really understood why they include these but there you go, there's one here too. Umm, it kinda gives an awful lot away in retrospect but I suppose you don't realise it at the time. Just don?t watch it before the movie itself, just in case. Nothing worse than a trailer full of spoilers... Production Notes 16 pages of additional info. about the movie if you want to read it... Cast & Filmmakers Oh I might read these one day - basically more written bios for the main cast and crew for you to skip through if you're interested. I wasn?t but I rarely am unless you're looking at a cast and crew of unknowns. Maybe something to save for a very raining day. Overall Well that's your lot. Aside from 'Constructing The Perfect Thriller' I wasn't too interested in the extra bits and pieces this disc has to offer but in all fairness, it's not the kind of movie which lends itself to an exciting selection of extras either so you can't complain too much. The commentary was flippin' boring though, if also kind of entertaining for the wrong reasons... You'll be buying the movie itself though rather than the extras and aside from the sound being very quiet you can't fault the production quality. The movie itself isn't all bad in fairness, but it didn't work for me and if you're looking for it to follow its billing as a chiller or a suspense-filled movie to rival Hitchcock?s best as Zemeckis seems to think, then forget it, not a chance does it work on that level! Let?s call it a generous 3 stars.
Twentieth Century Fox present to you What Lies Beneath. I got my copy free from www.fox.co.uk. I’m not sure if they’re still offering free DVD’s but you can take a look at the previous website to see. (NB#1 - You can choose from What Lies Beneath, Dr. Dolittle or The Full Monty. NB#2 - If you do order a copy you can expect to wait a while (mine took about 7 or 8 weeks to be delivered). NB#3 – I don’t know whether this is on all the free DVD’s but my copy has a slight problem. When you play the special features (more on this later) the mouths are slightly out of synch with the sound, no major qualms though because it was free after all!). ---------- Starring Harrison Ford Michelle Pfeiffer -------- Rating Rating: 15 ----------- Duration Approx. 124 minutes --------- Genres Horror, thriller, suspense ----------- Synopsis Taken from the back of the box: It had been a year since Dr. Normal Spencer (aka Harrison Ford) betrayed his wife, Claire (aka Michelle Pfeiffer). But with Clair oblivious to the truth and the affair over, Norman’s life and marriage seem perfect – so perfect that when Claire tells him of hearing mysterious voices and seeing a young woman’s ghostly image in their home, he dismisses her mounting terror as delusion. However, as Claire moves closer to the truth, it becomes clear that this apparition will not be dismissed, and has come back for Dr. Norman Spencer….and his wife. In general it is supposed to be a spellbinding supernatural thriller. What Lies Beneath marks the first pairing of superstars Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, teaming them with Oscar winning director Robert Zemeckis. ------------------------------------- What did Sarah_Louise think? Well MAXIM said: “Definitely the scariest film you’ll see this
year”. (NB. This film was released in 2000). I wouldn’t go that far myself but it is definitely worth a watch. The trailers made it look a lot scarier than it actually was (as you’d expect I guess). There were scary moments but it wasn’t a film that had me on the edge of my seat all the way through (or at all come to think of it!). I’m a big horror/thriller movie fan but I must confess to being a big wuss when it comes to watching them. I sat through this film without the aid of the nearest cushion (or any other object to obstruct my view) and managed to not jump 2 foot into the sky at any point during this film. If I can sit through this and not jump then anyone can. Its not gory (there’s only 1 bit of blood really and that isn’t very gory, its less than what you’d expect to see on your average episode of Casualty or Holby City. There are no knives, guns or any other form of weapon in this film either so you don’t have to worry about watching someone have their guts torn out, their heads ripped off, or any other non-too pleasant things occurring in this film. It is for these reasons combined that I really don’t see how MAXIM can say “Definitely the scariest film you’ll see this year”. All I can say is that all the other horror/thriller films last year must have been cr*p! I really can’t see why this film gets a 15 rating, it obviously isn’t a PG because of its nature but it could easily have been a 12 (or a 12A for that matter!). At times, Harry Potter is scarier! My personal ratings would be: For horror/thriller aspects: Goreability: 1/5 Jumpability: 2/5 Edge-of-seat ability: 2.5/5 (the 0.5 comes from the ending, the beginning and end gets a 2) Sub total: 5.5/15 = 37% For general film aspects: Story line: 4/5 Acting/characters: 4/5 Sub total: 8/10 = 8
0% So, as you can see, as a film in itself it is good but as a so-called thriller/horror it doesn’t score too highly in my books. Total rating: 13.5/25 = 54% ----------------------------------------- What do you get for your money? 1 box 1 DVD Sound’s exciting doesn’t it! The special DVD features are all on the actual movie DVD. You get the Chapter Selections on the inside cover of the box. I found these pretty confusing to be honest. Some of them don’t sound familiar at all, even when you look at them whilst watching! For example, “Chapter 16: Exorcism By Fire”. Now I’m sorry but did I miss something? Did I fall asleep for 10 minutes or something? I swear I never saw anything about exorcism by fire in the film! I know which scene they’re on about but I wouldn’t call it an exorcism myself (basically it involved throwing a few strands of hair into the fire, there was no spirit entity present, no screams, no cries, nothing, caput. Real exorcisms aren’t like that, that’s for sure!). --------------------------- Special DVD features · Feature audio commentary by director Robert Zemeckis. · Featurette: “Constructing the perfect thriller” – lasting about 15 minutes this explains the motivation for making the film and has some comments from Robert Zemeckis, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer as well as others who were involved in the making of the film. · Cast/crew biographies and production notes - 14 pages of text explaining how the film came about and some information on the characters. · Original theatrical thriller -------------- Conclusion This film is worth watching but don’t expect to be on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s one of those films that would be a lot better if seen at the cinema.
I think a good way to sum this film up would be one of those in which, if you needed the toilet mid-way through or you wanted to go and put the kettle on you wouldn’t necessarily press pause or stop on your remote control. Throughout the majority of the film you could easily miss a few minutes and not actually miss anything. There are of course essential bits which would make the remainder of the film a bit difficult to understand if you missed them but actual horror/thriller moments could be missed easily. Definitely worth a watch but I wouldn’t necessarily go out and actually buy the DVD. ------------ More info http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hv&cf=info&id=1800419889 and http://www.hollywood.com/movies/detail/movie/168700 -------------------- Want your own? You can buy a DVD copy from Amazon.co.uk for £18.99
By there very nature horror films are meant to scare the viewer, yet despite horror being my favourite type of film this seldom happens. Of course any film can include a scene which makes the audience jump but that doesn't mean the film is genuinely scary. The only type of film that comes near to frightening me is one that features ghosts and What Lies beneath is such a film. What Lies Beneath is directed by the highly acclaimed Robert Zemeckis who's previous works include Cast Away and Forrest Gump and it brings together Harrison Ford and Michele Pfeiffer for this supernatural thriller/horror. Ford plays Norman Spenser who lives with his wife Claire on the edge of a lake in Vermont. A year after being involved in a car accident Claire has to say goodbye to her daughter who's going away to college. Once she leaves strange occurrences around the house begin to scare Claire. They vary from doors being left open to reflections appearing in her bath water and other general eerie happenings. Norman becomes concerned about Claire especially when she becomes convinced that the phenomena is somehow related to the couple next door. This all leads to Claire eventually seeking the help of a therapist and she even goes as far as to persuade her best friend into using a Ouija board. I'd highly recommend What Lies Beneath to anyone looking for an Hitchcock type of film. The pace is very slow and may not be to everyone's taste although many will be pleased to see a movie which tries some sort of character development. Personally I thought it may have been a tad too long. However the film does consist of a few great scenes and the one towards the end in the bathroom was truly a excellent one. The use of water in the film is also a major focal point and a reoccurring theme that works well. The acting as you would expect is flawless and Pfeiffer manages to perform better than she has done in years. While Ford is also
impeccable you do get the feeling he could act in his sleep and he makes acting look at times extremely easy. The film doesn't have a large cast and nearly all the scenes involve either Pfeiffer or Ford bu this isn't a problem at all. The tension in the film builds up nicely and it's one I'm sure will benefit from repeat viewing. I also think it will mature with age and may be worth watching again in years to come. Had the movie contained a few more scary moments then it could have been a great film instead of just a good one. OK What Lies Beneath isn't perfect and may not suite everyone, in fact many of my friends thought it was a rather mundane experience. It does have plenty of atmosphere and the latter part makes it all worth watching.
What would Hitchcock have done if he had had modern digital effects? The answer is almost certainly: something very like What Lies Beneath, Robert Zemeckis' technically accomplished supernatural thriller that pays open homage to Suspicion, Rear Window and Psycho, to name but three. Michelle Pfeiffer delivers one of the finest, most nuanced performances of her career as a woman in an ideal relationship whose perfect life begins to unravel with terrifying consequences. Harrison Ford plays sympathetically against type as her husband who may or may not be telling her the truth. Although made in the middle of his filming Cast Away, while the director waited for Tom Hanks to shed some pounds, this is no quickie throwaway picture. Zemeckis loads this character-driven story with genuinely scary suspense, using subtle camera moves, mirrored reflections and red-herrings in a classic Hitchcockian manner--the difference here is that he has access to the most up-to-date digital effects and employs them with characteristic imagination, creating seemingly impossible camera angles that only enhance the tension. The Production Design is equally carefully considered, as even the idyllic household setting with its pristine bathroom is gradually transformed into an object of terror. Composer Alan Silvestri's score winds up the drama several notches further with an appropriate Bernard Herrmann pastiche. On the DVD: The principal attraction of this disc is the pin-sharp anamorphic picture and 5.1 soundtrack--superb picture and sound quality contribute greatly to the enjoyment here, since Zemeckis is one of the few contemporary directors who remains acutely sensitive to the composition of each and every scene. The brief featurette is a little misleadingly titled, as it's essentially a profile of Zemeckis' career with a few comments about this film thrown in for good measure. The rather dry and uninvolving commentary is by Zemeckis with producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke. --Mark Walker