What Lies Beneath (2000)


You Stole the Dead Woman’s Shoe?

With October Horror-thon coming to a close, I picked an odd movie that I now feel barely qualifies as a horror movie.  It has a ghost thing going on, but not a super strong one.  But it was on the top of the pile I pulled of horror movies and so it’s happening.  The movie is called What Lies Beneath, directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Amber Valletta, Miranda Otto, James Remar, Diana Scarwid, and Joe Morton.

Claire Spencer (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her husband Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) send their daughter off to college, leaving Claire all mopey about it.  One night, the Spencers hear their new neighbors, Mary (Miranda Otto) and Warren (James Remar) Feur, have a big argument.  Claire decides to get all Rear Window about it and spies on them through binoculars.  One night, she sees Warren dragging a big bag into the trunk of his car.  Being that there is no other, logical explanation, Claire decides Warren killed Mary.  Claire starts having some strange occurrences that lead her to believe that Mary is haunting her.  Claire has a seance to contact Mary and the Ouija board starts to move from M to F.  Obviously, this means it’s Mary.  She goes to her husband at work and gets all worked up when he tries to tell her that she’s overreacting.  To show just how much she’s not overreacting, she accuses Warren to his face until Mary joins in on the conversation.  Claire temporarily lets the situation go until she finds a newspaper clipping about a missing girl named Madison Elizabeth Frank.  She performs a ritual with a braid of Madison’s hair she steals from Madison’s mother that causes Claire to be temporarily possessed by Madison.  Claire must find out what the connection is between Madison and her family and why she’s been haunting them.

As I said in the prologue, I wasn’t really feeling like this movie would qualify as a horror movie through the first part of it, but it kind of brought it home in the end.  It did pull off some good startles and some suspense as well, but without any gore or confirmed supernatural occurrences, I became worried that I would have to watch ANOTHER movie before going to bed because this one wouldn’t count towards the arbitrary rule I set on myself for doing all horror movies.  I thought that Pfeiffer was only imagining ghosts because she had been in a car accident that caused her to forget certain things she saw before the accident and the “ghost” thing was just the way her memories were returning, but thankfully, near the end of the movie, things were revealed that actually had ghosts so it justified it.

I do actually kind of dig this movie.  It pulls off the suspense it goes after for the most part.  I feel like part of my enjoyment might have been because it was Robert Zemeckis, who I will eternally love for Back to the Future, but I didn’t know it was him until I started writing the review.  The movie is a little slow to start and it does feel like the whole misdirection thing involving their neighbors was a waste of time, but it was still pretty entertaining, and that’s all I really require out of a movie when push comes to shove.  I hadn’t thought about it until just now, but since the ghost had nothing to do with the neighbors, that was probably 45 minutes of unnecessary stuff in the movie.  But it turns out in the end that the ghost’s problem isn’t even with Pfeiffer, so what the hell?  Why’re you haunting her when one could assume you have the power to go after the person you actually have the problem with just as easily?

The acting is pretty good.  Pfeiffer had to pull off two distinct performances at times in this movie.  When she was Claire her stress levels were slowly climbing to a boiling point as the movie progressed, took a bit of a lull in the lower half of the movie, and then popped right back up to where they were pretty quickly.  Then she also played the much more confident, pushy, and seductive ghost-possessed Claire and the performance really showed a range for Pfeiffer.  Not a range that I didn’t already know she had though.  She did the same kind of thing in Batman Returns, technically.  Selina Kyle starts off nerdy and timid until she gets thrown out of a window by Christopher Walken.  Then Catwoman comes in all sexy and sassy.  Same principle, less leather.  Harrison Ford had an interesting performance as well.  For the first 2/3 of the movie, he really doesn’t make much of an impression, but shows up in the last third.  He’s technically present for it, but it’s more about Pfeiffer at that point.  When it’s his turn and the back story is being revealed, you kind of feel bad for him for a while.  He messed up, but he seems to deeply regret it.  And by the very end of the movie, you don’t feel as bad for him anymore.  There were very few other people in this movie so I don’t really know what else to say about their performances.  It was mainly Catwoman and Han Solo.

The movie only barely manages to qualify as a horror movie, so I would avoid going into it expecting one.  Instead, go in expecting a suspense movie with a bit of a slow start but some solid performances and you should say this movie is thoroughly okay.  And that’s what I have done.  I have decided it is okay, but thoroughly so!  And I will give this movie “Claire’s hearing things” out of “Forbidden fruit.”

Hey, peeps.  Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh?  And tell your friends!  Let’s make me famous!

One response to “What Lies Beneath (2000)

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