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What Lies Beneath

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: What Lies Beneath

Starring: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 130 Minutes
Release Date: July 2000
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Wendy Crewson, Joe Morton, Amber Valletta, James Remar, Rachel Singer

Review by Steve Rhodes
1 star out of 4

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 than this?

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 alluded to.

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 did.

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

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