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Hollywood Spotlight - Reviews [What Lies Beneath]
ORIGINAL FULL FILM REVIEW
What Lies Beneath (Special Edition)
Release Date: 1/30/01
Run Time: 130 minutes
Starring: James Remar, Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Miranda Otto, Joe Morton, Diana Scarwid
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Produced by: Steve Starkey, Jack Rapke and Robert Zemeckis
Written by: Clark Gregg
Movie Summary: [Horror]
A year ago, Dr. Norman Spencer betrayed his beautiful wife Claire. But the affair is over and Claire's oblivious to the truth; Norman's life and marriage seem perfect--so perfect that when Claire tells him she's hearing mysterious voices and seeing a young woman's wraithlike image in their home, he dismisses her mounting terror as delusion. However, as Claire moves closer to the truth, it becomes clear that this apparition will not be dismissed, and has come back for Dr. Norman Spencer--and his beautiful wife.
Widescreen: 2.35:1, Enhanced for 16X9 TVs, Color, Region 1, Parental Lock
Audio Commentary by director Robert Zemeckis, Trailer, Production Info, Production Stills, Cast/Crew Biographies, "HBO First Look" Making Of
t's a terrible conversation starter, but the fact remains: men around the world cheat on their wives every day of the week. Not all men, granted, but a vast lot of them. Though it's true, one could argue all the same that women cheat on their husbands. The harsh state of reality simply shows that you can't trust anyone - if not your spouse, then who? Why marry at all? How come this massive group of festering sinners couldn't get it straight in the first place that they have to go off and adulterate instead of just not be wed? But oh! If the moral and spiritual implications aren't impactful enough at that, just consider the wave of crime and anarchy to arise come discovery of a professed lover's fanciful flights into the night. Husbands and wives should live in constant suspicion of one another. They should poke fun now and then trying to make the other slip into inadvertently revealing some dark secret. I, for one, would have a constant wiretap and locator on my wife, and you should too!
After having taken care to flood my thoughts with such hogwash, I finally felt prepared to enter tonight's feature film - What Lies Beneath. All day, I was stoked about 'the new Harry Ford movie!' only to find that it was not a Harry Ford movie at all - it was the Michelle Pfeiffer movie! Pfeiffer (say that ten times fast, really - I dare ya!) plays opposite Ford in this summer's truly scary movie. It's a very scary movie. Very. *ahem* I didn't know what to expect going in, but by the time I emerged from the dank and stifling screening theater, my mind was completely numb - not because of how amazingly brilliant and stunning the film was, but because I hadn't had to use my brain in so long, it just got all tingly and fell asleep. What Lies Beneath is packed front to back with hand-holding and predictability so intense that, -I kid you not-, you'll laugh out loud when you're not supposed to. Well I did anyway, but I promptly sat down, pulled my shirt back over my head and straightened my hair, wary of a thousand eyeballs aimed at me. It's ludicrous, but nothing new from the Hollywood sector.
That being said, you might be thinking that I hated this movie. Truth be told, What Lies Beneath and I have something of a love-hate relationship, much like the next door neighbors. So where does the love come in? Cinematography and directing. This movie has absolutely gorgeous, carefully planned shots. Some things to watch for are low angle, slow-sweeping pans, extensive use of tight, close-range scenes centered on the characters, a truly slick shot where the camera dips below the floor, extensive creative use of mirror shots, and elegant lighting effects. Pfeiffer displays a tremendous amount of facial, eye and mouth movement control while the camera spends much of its time taking in her every gesture, in part telling the story and partly setting the mood. The film is accompanied by a stirring musical score that dramatically showcases the nail-biting suspense. When I watched the Scream series of movies in the theaters, I recall more laughter at the absurdity of the sequences than actual screaming. During What Lies Beneath, I began counting the times that the film drew a blood-curdling shriek from the audience but lost count after ten. This was the most reaction I've ever seen out of a crowd through such a thriller, probably three or four parts of which I'll admit unnerved me (heart of stone and mind of steel) as well. But I got the sense that for the remainder, the crowd was actually playing to the film, crying out mockingly, as if the film cared to hear the reaction. This movie contains scenes so classically overused, they couldn't possibly have freaked anyone out - could they? The movie also used audio effects to sort of forecast what was about to happen. When you see a lady in her gown stroll to the end of a dock, out over the water, and the atmospheric sounds die down and she's staring blankly at the water, and the wind lifts her rope slightly, an ominous, solitary flapping sound - what do you think happens next? Yep, you guessed it: she jumps. There are those who feel satisfied that they can feel what's coming next in a movie, complete in their understanding and envelopment by the story and then there's me, rolling my eyes waiting for things to get on with it.
What Lies Beneath carries a strong cast, a competent director, artistic flare, a compelling story, a twistedly interesting lead-in sub-plot, and a complimentary musical score. But it suffers from emphatic foreshadowing and is clearly designed, as with the majority of modern films, to prevent you from thinking - a government conspiracy if you ask me. With a select few seconds of footage clipped out throughout the film, it would have been more engaging and would have made me feel all grown up that I could comprehend something so profound without it being implicitly spelled out for me. Ever notice that that's what makes many of the great films so great? I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys suspenseful drama, but don't feel bad if you find yourself laughing during some of the "scary" scenes.