Welcome to SCREAM 4? With first-time screenwriter Clark Gregg's clichéd
script for WHAT LIES BENEATH, containing the worst ending of any movie
this year, the only hope for director Robert Zemeckis (CONTACT) would
have been to try for a horror movie spoof. But this was not to be. He
and his fine actors (Harrison Ford as Norman and Michelle Pfeiffer as
his wife Claire) approach their work with dead seriousness.
To be fair, most of the movie isn't bad, it just treads water. The
characters' actions are easily guessed and the movie borrows liberally
from many other films, including, among others, REAR WINDOW, FATAL
ATTRACTION and IN DREAMS.
But then there's that last reel when all hell breaks loose on the
screen, and the script dredges up every unbelievable cliché you've ever
seen. The characters' actions become so preposterous that you'll be
laughing out loud at how ridiculous it all is. Insulting the viewer's
intelligence left and right, Claire will do everything that anyone who
has ever seen a horror movie knows not to do. Not many movies make me
angry, but this one did. Doesn't the director think we deserve better
As the film starts, we meet Norman and Claire, two relatively happy new
empty nesters. Their daughter is off to college, so they are ready to
see if they can have such wild sex that they can make more sexual noise
than their neighbors.
Soon this state of bliss is interrupted when a ghost starts disturbing
Claire. We can't be sure it's a ghost. Claire had this big accident a
year ago, you see, and she has lingering problems, which are only
Just like Jimmy Stewart did in REAR WINDOW, Claire starts spying on her
new neighbors. She becomes convinced that the husband has killed his
wife, and that the ghost is the dead wife. After all, the neighbors had
a fight. The wife's car is in the garage, but she isn't at home. And
-- the real proof -- Claire sees the "murderer" eating a TV dinner
alone. This whole episode is kind of cute and the high point of a show
that doesn't have many.
Finally, there are those ubiquitous trailers that contain more spoilers
than I've ever seen. If you haven't seen the trailers, you may be able
to enjoy the first part of the movie a bit more since it puts a little
suspense into it. Knowing the key points given away in the trailers
make that impossible.
Still, whether you've seen the trailers or not, nothing would make a
movie with such an insulting ending bearable. If you do go to the
movie, walk out before the last ten minutes or so. You'll be glad you
WHAT LIES BENEATH runs a long 2:10. The film is very incorrectly rated
PG-13 for terror, violence, sensuality and brief language. It should
have been an R given the intense level of violence and fright. It would
be acceptable for older teenagers.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes