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Overall Rating
3.25

Awesome: 18.49%
Worth A Look: 24.66%
Just Average28.77%
Pretty Crappy: 19.86%
Sucks: 8.22%

8 reviews, 98 user ratings



What Lies Beneath
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Tepid Hitchcockian pastiche; rent a De Palma instead."
2 stars

The ghost haunting 'What Lies Beneath' is not murder most foul, but the shadow of Hitchcock.

I would say the spirit of Hitchcock, but the spirit of Hitchcock is playfully diabolical; Brian De Palma gleefully ripped off Hitch, and his glee was truer to the master than any of the bits of style he swiped. The director of What Lies Beneath, unfortunately, is Robert Zemeckis, who may have had the sense of humor beaten out of him after his much-underrated comedy Death Becomes Her. Zemeckis reproduces Hitchcock, but at a crawl that makes even the leisurely paced Hitch seem brisk; it's like watching High Anxiety played straight and at the wrong speed. If this is the spirit of Hitchcock, it's a very spiritless spirit.

I always feel the need to say that Zemeckis is still one of the top directors out there. What Lies Beneath is immaculately and handsomely assembled, as was his Contact, and the Oscar-eating Forrest Gump before that. Perhaps he's simply going through a similar rut to the one his friend Steven Spielberg went through pre-Schindler's List -- giving his all to scripts that don't give much back. This one, by Clark Gregg, paints by the numbers so ineptly that the result is a chaotic smear on a canvas. Zemeckis' work here is like a painstaking photo of that bad painting. If he wanted to do a suspense thriller, he should've held out for a better one.

In what seems less like a plausible marriage than a studio decision, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer -- he a scientist, she a former cellist -- go through the motions of love for a few early scenes. As if anticipating how little chemistry Ford and Pfeiffer have together, Gregg's script keeps them apart for most of the film. Alone in their Martha-Stewart-worthy Vermont lakeside home, Pfeiffer has lots of time to hear strange noises and glimpse odd sights. A door opens by itself; a tub fills up by itself. Trouble is, Zemeckis repeats these omens at least three times each, risking such snarky audience comments as "Yep, there's the tub again."

Pfeiffer fears that the ghostly manifestations have to do with a quarreling couple next door; she suspects that the husband killed his wife and that her ghost is trying to contact Pfeiffer. Those who've seen the trailer for What Lies Beneath know differently, but they don't know the whole story. I'll say only that Harrison Ford, for the most part giving the latest in a string of somnambulistic performances, must have been sold on the script on the power of its climax, because for most of the movie he's little more than a high-priced supporting actor. It's Pfeiffer's movie, and though I dislike how she wins our sympathy by making us feel protective of her fragile heroine -- I prefer her stronger and gutsier -- she wins it anyway, creating a believably haunted woman. Too bad the script isn't worth her effort.

I grew to love The Sixth Sense over repeated viewings; that was the sort of thriller that gains substance in your memory and creates the nagging but warm feeling of not only needing to see it again, but wanting to. It wasn't a supernatural gimmick or a surprise ending that gave the movie great word of mouth and attracted viewers back for more; it was its human heart, the gentle rapport between the boy and his psychiatrist or his mother. What Lies Beneath has about ten times as many "Boo!" scenes as The Sixth Sense, but isn't a tenth as haunting or as touching. It's just gimmick all the way, and that extends to the ending, which toys with the audience's star-power expectations in a way that feels thoroughly artificial. There's a good, nail-biting sequence in a tub (yep, there's the tub again), but the events leading to it and following it are borderline laughable, without the heedless joy that distinguished, say, De Palma's thrillers or Kenneth Branagh's lovably overwrought Dead Again. Ridiculous thriller moments that don't invite you to giggle along with the director are in deep trouble.

And I keep flashing back to Zemeckis' drawn-out staging of the "Boo!" scenes, as if he were determined to prolong the suspense so much that the audience would squirm out of its seats. Squirm they will, but maybe for other reasons.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=3873&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/10/07 13:57:43
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell a routine ghost flick 3 stars
3/23/11 Nancy the movie did its job, scare the shit out of me. great movie. 4 stars
5/08/09 Samantha Pruitt very suspenseful, i like the story 4 stars
8/13/08 Brenda I think the biggest problem was Harris Ford was the bad guy. He didn't pull it off 2 stars
5/28/08 PAUL SHORTT ANYONE SEEKING EVEN A SMIDGEN OF SUBSTANCE SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE 1 stars
5/15/08 cinderella Great film with wonderful acting from Pfeiffer! 5 stars
12/14/06 R.W.Welch Hokey ending. Otherwise, not a bad suspense flick. 3 stars
8/13/06 Sharon didnt get half of it untill I watched it four times this movie is shitty 2 stars
8/04/06 nicolecrom2678 scared the crap out of me!! Great film! 5 stars
1/12/05 Tom Benton Well-done thriller, faintly reminescent of one of Hitchcock's late works. 4 stars
11/16/04 Daragh Michelle Pfieffer is amazing 4 stars
8/18/04 courtney scared the fricking shit out of me a hve to see for thrill seekers 4 stars
6/02/04 Angel Scary, sexy and very, very damp. Beautiful movie. 4 stars
4/18/04 Nevz More like artificially made. Boring! 3 stars
4/11/04 valerie hart this was a good film not like all the other horror movies.(NOT REALLY A TEEN MOVIE) 4 stars
3/07/04 Vince I enjoyed that one 4 stars
1/07/04 A F Oh yeah this was a movie. 2 stars
9/08/03 Laura Stuart James Remar MADE this movie!!!!! 5 stars
7/23/03 Kit Good thriller...better than a stupid slasher film any day 4 stars
7/17/03 Chris It's not only how scary it is but how it scares you. Artfully made, directed, and acted. 4 stars
6/13/03 Alice Great Thriller, Good one ! 5 stars
4/21/03 Jenny Tullwartz Pfeiffer her usual portrait of mediocrity; Ford would better be left typecast as a hero. 3 stars
4/08/03 JL this movie kicked ass!! 5 stars
3/21/03 Jack Sommersby Flawed but pretty suspenseful when needed. Ludicrous ending, though. 3 stars
12/27/02 Rayna Kuzio I love a good ghost film... 4 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Obvious horror dressed up with money 3 stars
9/23/02 I Can't Swim Belongs on USA Network w/Tim Matheson & Sally Kirkland 1 stars
9/09/02 Ashley Stinson Hitchcock had a great influence on this film. 5 stars
9/09/02 Ben Wasden What Lies Beneath made me jump and I enjoyed it much more than the Sixth Sense. 5 stars
7/19/02 ! Unpredictable, good film 4 stars
7/11/02 KMG Moves slower than a constipated turd 3 stars
4/22/02 Danielle Ophelia Not a bone-crushing fall, but definitely a slight stumble. 3 stars
4/13/02 Shrike Interesting, but on a middle level 3 stars
4/03/02 cat really scary! I never guessed the ending...for once. 5 stars
3/13/02 Valerie Cameron Harrison Ford demonstrates that some performers are better left typecast. 3 stars
2/05/02 femmemina and u thought it's predictable...it left me with mouth agape 4 stars
1/16/02 David A. Really great ghost story--spooky, suspensful, and intelligent. Aquatic effect was original. 5 stars
1/12/02 Andrew Carden Other Then Zemeckis's Direction, This Movie Falls Apart Instantly. 2 stars
1/12/02 breeze4sd great film 5 stars
11/30/01 Mark Conway Total utter pish, fell asleep twice while watching it, predictable plot. 1 stars
11/27/01 sdfr Two leads' Hollywood star profile kinda ruins this one. Fitfully interesting only. 3 stars
10/08/01 Mark Conway this was a crap movie, with no scares at all. 2 stars
9/06/01 Gary Pfieffer is excellent, the direction and cinematography are great, but an overall letdown. 3 stars
9/02/01 Butterbean I've always wanted to see Pfeiffer and Ford together. I guess this film will have to do. 3 stars
8/31/01 Bada Bing Crosby I must have seen the shitty version-movie is so awful I can't believe it 1 stars
8/30/01 Hooker with a Penis A cool movie, kinda Hitchcockian in overall style... Therefore good. 4 stars
8/07/01 Mr. Hat Really suspenseful and heart-pounding. Like a revised "Fatal Attraction." 4 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Some of it kicked ass, most of it sucked ass...I'll go average. 3 stars
5/24/01 I love movies imagine this movie without the big name actors - they'd only show it on TV 3 stars
4/24/01 TigerDream Too slow, too predictable, and not very scary at all 2 stars
4/20/01 Monday Morning HF actually tries some acting. That's worth a point. Otherwise, a SLOW movie. 3 stars
4/17/01 Robbo OK But dont believe the hype its just not scary! 3 stars
4/09/01 ChErRyRiPe Very good, a bit slow but the end was great! 4 stars
3/08/01 The Evil Penguin scarier than Poltergeist 5 stars
3/07/01 Sanja I didn't expect this. 4 stars
3/07/01 Sanja I didn't expect this. 5 stars
2/15/01 Del R This could be shown on the lifetime network "Men bad, Women good" 4 stars
2/12/01 CJ O' Callaghan What the fuck is wrong with u'r reviewers!?- this is a great horror film- scary as hell ! 5 stars
2/08/01 DREDD ending is too typical and overplayed 3 stars
2/06/01 John Lyons First horror movie I've been excited about in a long time! 5 stars
2/01/01 The Bomb 69 very slow the first half, picked up somewhat but the ending was drawn out 3 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman Suspicion + Vertigo+Rear Window +Diabolique 4 stars
1/10/01 Matt69 All style no substance. Ford and Pfieffer keep it from sucking ass 2 stars
12/31/00 Mic Shooting quite good, writing quite bad (examples of both: the ending) 3 stars
12/16/00 Connoisseur it's all cliche... but well done! 4 stars
12/14/00 Kook Cliche. 2 stars
12/14/00 Tom Though a little slow, the ending is climactic, and a great new role for Ford. Great Film! 5 stars
12/02/00 scott wahls full of surprises but moved a little slow, not for those with ADD 4 stars
11/22/00 Ken Sherwood Brilliant, Gripping 5 stars
11/18/00 viking "The Sixth Sense" meets "Psycho" 3 stars
11/17/00 Beck I don't usually scare easily but this made me jump and kept me on the edge of my seat! 4 stars
11/11/00 Matthew Bartley Dull in places but very scary in others 4 stars
11/11/00 C.Chew it's not really that fantastic, but yet not that bad either. so it's up to u to decide! 3 stars
10/24/00 YOUR Movie Expert The Sixth Sense rip-offs have started, this one's slow and has a terrible ending. 1 stars
10/23/00 Gray Stupid score and crappy ending but brilliantly made and does have its shocks. 4 stars
10/04/00 Jackie What Lies Beneath is AWESOME!! I think this movie made me jump about ten times. Great movie 5 stars
9/18/00 Tim A good movie, but there should be a 2 minute warning so you can leave before the ending 4 stars
9/17/00 Leena Varkey Only the cast is good!! 3 stars
9/07/00 Tdis72 Very good movie. Michelle and Harrison does a good job in this shocking thriller. 5 stars
8/08/00 Bueller I was expecting something very Hitchcockian. I was entertained, but seriously disappointed. 3 stars
8/07/00 chris I thought it was cool but who ever wrote it should go back to comic books. 4 stars
8/01/00 IBDN Good until the ending 4 stars
7/31/00 PJ Trish, I too have never screamed ever, but I yelled out" OH God"! I got scared, great movie 5 stars
7/31/00 Fenris Harrison Ford makes it worth the money! 5 stars
7/30/00 Philm Phreak zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
7/29/00 my2cents this film was extremely poor 1 stars
7/26/00 extar-bags Good; in the hitchcock style. Worth paying for, even! 4 stars
7/26/00 Eric Hodel Lots of good twists, nearly got my arm ripped off 4 stars
7/26/00 Alexandra the suspense nearly slaughtered me. 5 stars
7/25/00 Krystal Great Movie! 5 stars
7/25/00 Vesse Best movie I've seen all summer!!! 5 stars
7/24/00 Trish Edwards I actually screamed at one point - I NEVER do that! 5 stars
7/24/00 Poetcdh Totally Predictable "surprises" 2 stars
7/22/00 Matt Thiel Left me with a bad taste in my mouth that poisons the rest of the film. 2 stars
7/21/00 Al Hitchcock Loved this film!!! 5 stars
7/21/00 Ginger it scared the shit out of me 5 stars
7/21/00 Rue the Whirl too many tired "scare" tactics, but otherwise engaging enough to keep your attention 4 stars
7/14/00 **~**Persnickety**~** this movie is fucking great, the ending totally took me by surprise! harrison rules! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Jul-2000

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Nov-2000 (M)


Directed by
  Robert Zemeckis

Written by
  Clark Gregg

Cast
  Harrison Ford
  Michelle Pfeiffer
  Wendy Crewson
  James Remar
  Joe Morton
  Miranda Otto



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