The obvious intention here was to create a film using Hitchcock-style themes and suspense updated for a new audience, and in many ways Zemeckis succeeds brilliantly, weaving a twisty, creepy story that has the ability to keep us balancing precariously on the edge of our seats. Then the movie cliches kick in.Claire and Norman (Pfeiffer and Ford) are a deliriously happy couple facing empty nest syndrome, which for Claire is even more serious as Norman is always at the lab working on his important medical research.
Alone in their rambling lakeside house, Claire starts seeing and hearing things, beginning with neighbours (Remar and Otto) whose constant arguments may have turned fatal. Then when a ghost appears, her worst suspicions are confirmed. Or are they? Maybe something else is actually going on here!
There are so many delicious layers to the story that it's impossible to outline them all here--father-son and mother-daughter dynamics, marital fragility, insinuating jealousy and most obviously the past coming back to get its revenge. Pfeiffer plays the role magnificently, assisted by Zemeckis' usual bag of cinematic tricks. As usual lately, Ford coasts through it, commanding the screen without doing anything much, really.
Lots of terrific actors fill in the typical tiny-but-quirky supporting roles. The film looks absolutely fantastic, building the tension with clever camera work and very subtle effects, and until the final act it's the kind of suspense that does the Master proud--all unfounded suspicion and disbelief, hints of nefarious goings on, scary lurking things and red herrings on every side.But the script abandons this promise for a big cop-out finale that panders to the most obvious movie formulas imaginable, most notably one ending after another until we scream, "enough already!" Even so, this is better than nine out of ten thrillers out there, so I should just stop complaining.--(Rich Cline)