What Lies Beneath

Once again, some idiot (at either Dreamworks or 20th Century Fox) throws together a movie trailer that gives a little too much away. The success of What Lies Beneath relies on its ability to keep the viewer guessing (it does not do a good job of this in the first place), but after seeing the trailer, the first half of the movie is pointless. This is not a good sign for two of America's best actors, Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Although both are highly talented, they are both in need of a good successful film. Audiences refuse to accept Ford in anything except action roles, as evidenced by the performances in Random Hearts and Six Days/Seven Nights). It may just be bad choices in picking roles, as Pfeiffer did in The Deep End of the Ocean and The Story of Us.

Claire Spencer (Pfeiffer) lives alone with her husband Norman (Ford), a professor of genetics at a local college. Claire's daughter just left for college, leaving the two alone in their newly remodeled house in rural Vermont. Claire is adjusting to life on her own (her husband is always at college). In her time alone, she begins to hear things. A door opens mysteriously, pictures fall down, and she thinks she sees a dead woman. What Lies Beneath then turns into Rear Window (it's hard to tell if it's an homage or cheap rip-off) with peering through windows at her neighbor. Again, anyone who saw the trailer will know whether or not the neighbor is behind the strange goings on at the house (here's a hint-NO). Claire confides in Norman, who seems to care, but also acts delicately around her. Since it is not the neighbors, the viewers need to wait for the story to reveal what exactly is going on. If anything, it lets people see the beautiful house they live in. The setting and production values are basically the only redeeming factors about the film. The Spencers live in a huge gorgeous house on a lakefront. Camera shots are great, particularly one near the end where the camera zooms from an overhead view of Pfeiffer to one looking up from the floor.

Again, because the trailer reveals so much, any tension director Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away, Contact) is lost. There are the typical moments where the music volume turns up and something causes audience members to jump. This just reduces the movie to the level of the typical horror movie (especially the final act). Screenwriter Clark Gregg tries to keep the audience guessing with constant twists and turns, but it does not pay off. The studios left the ending mystery, and its eventual revelation does not feel worth it. There is, of course, the offhand comment in the beginning that plays a part in the ending sequence (pay attention to what the students say in the lab), and plenty of scenes with Pfeiffer looking scared. Gregg also mixes in subplots with Norman in his father's shadow and a car accident Claire was in, both of which obviously come together to attempt to make the story grander. Ford does not really act in the film since the script does not call upon him to do anything. His delivery is dry and laconic, and he looks bored most of the time. Both principal actors are working well below their talent, and What Lies Beneath becomes the third bad film for both.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
2 hours, 10 minutes, Rated PG-13 for terror/violence, sensuality and brief language.

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