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. Now, Claire 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. Written by
Eugene Kim <email@example.com>
Claire and Norman Spencer's marriage starts to fall apart when she believes there is a ghost in the house. Things gather apace when Claire is convinced that the spirit is trying to tell her something. Something that could be too close to home for comfort.
Robert Zemeckis does Hitchcock? Well yes, the influence is obvious, unashamedly so. But the trouble with that, is having the maestro as a benchmark renders all other modern day attempts as folly. However, casting aside that gargantuan issue, What Lies Beneath is an effective creeper come thriller that boasts star credentials.
Directed by Zemeckis, formed from an idea by Steven Spielberg (from the story by Sarah Kernochan) and starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer as the fragmenting Spencer's. That's a pretty tidy bunch from which to launch your movie. What follows is a mixture of genuine unease and mystery, red herrings and standard boo jump moments, all of which almost gets lost on a saggy middle section as Zemeckis plays Hitchcock one too many times and loses sight of the supernatural heart of the piece, not helped by Clark Gregg's meandering script I might add. None the less, the picture gets pulled around for the finale as the spooky combines with thriller to produce some quality edge of the seat stuff. But it's only then that you totally realise that the makers here have tried to cram too much in to one film. In eagerness to manipulate the audience for the fine ending (though you probably will have it worked out at the half way point) the film just ends up as being confused as to what it mostly wanted to be.
Pfeiffer is excellent and looks stunning and Ford gives it gusto when the script allows. Support comes from Diana Scarwid, Joe Morton, Miranda Otto and James Remar. The house is suitably eerie with its waterside setting and Alan Silvestri's score is perfectly in tune with the creepy elements of the piece. It's a fine enough film in its own right, regardless of the Hitchcockian homages. It's just that it should have been a far better horror picture than it turned out to be. 7/10
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