What Lies Beneath (2000)
Some men cheat and get caught. Some men pay a higher price
What Lies Beneath (2000) - What Lies Beneath is a 2000 American supernatural horror-thriller film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It stars veteran actors Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer as a well-to-do couple who experience a strange haunting that uncovers secrets about their past. The film is deliberately Hitchcockian in style.
Norman Spencer, a university research scientist, is growing more and
more concerned about his wife, Claire, a retired concert cellist who a
year ago was involved in a serious auto accident, and who has just sent
off her daughter Caitlin (Norman's stepdaughter) to college.
reports hearing voices and witnessing eerie occurrences in and around
their lakeside Vermont home, including seeing the face of a young woman
reflected in water.
An increasingly frightened Claire thinks the
phenomena have something to do with the couple living next door,
especially since the wife has disappeared without apparent explanation.
At her husband's urging, Claire starts to see a therapist; she tells him
she thinks the house is being haunted by a ghost. His advice? Try to
make contact. Enlisting the help of her best friend, Jody, and a ouija
board, Claire seeks to find out the truth of What Lies Beneath.
Budgeted at $100,000,000, What Lies Beneath was released on July 21, 2000 at #1 at the box office, grossing just under $30 million. It continued strongly throughout the summer of 2000, and ended up grossing over $155 million in the United States, and nearly $300 million worldwide.
The film holds a rating of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a score of 51 on Metacritic, indicating mixed reviews from critics. The New York Times wrote that, "at the start, he [Zemeckis] zaps us with quick, glib scares, just to show he still knows how, but his heart isn't in this kind of material anymore. His reflexes are a little slow."
The Los Angeles Times called it "spooky with a polished kind of creepiness added in... What Lies Beneath nevertheless feels more planned than passionate, scary at points but unconvincing overall."
What Lies Beneath (2000) - Ouija Board Scene
The Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "Lacking a smarter screenplay, it milks the genuine skills of its actors and director for more than it deserves, and then runs off the rails in an ending more laughable than scary. Along the way, yes, there are some good moments."
Time Out thought that, "after a slow build that at times makes every hair stand on end – Zemeckis rolls out every thriller cliché there is. A pity, because until then it's a smart, realistically staged, adult-oriented and extraordinarily effective domestic chiller."
Empire wrote: "The biggest surprise is, perhaps, that what emerges is no masterpiece, but a semi-sophisticated shocker, playfully homaging Hitchcock like a mechanical masterclass in doing ‘genre’. The first hour is great fun... It’s an enjoyably giddy ride, certainly, but once you’re back from the edge of your seat, you realize most of the creaks and groans are from the decomposing script."
Michelle Pfeiffer received some positive notice for her performance. Roger Ebert called her "convincing and sympathetic." Ebert noted in his review that he felt the problem with Zemeckis's desire to direct a Hitchcockian film was to involve the supernatural, which he believes to be something Alfred Hitchcock would never have done.