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Overall Rating
3.25

Awesome: 18.49%
Worth A Look: 24.66%
Average28.77%
Pretty Bad: 19.86%
Total Crap: 8.22%

8 reviews, 98 user ratings


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What Lies Beneath
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by Chris Parry

"Glimpses of good, then a firestorm of formula."
2 stars

Hairy Harry Ford is a science professor heading up a research project on something that makes no sense and has nothing to do with the story - except that at the very beginning of the film, his wife dwells for a second on a group of Harry's science students as they paralyze a mouse with a bright yellow chemical, talking about how it works very loudly and in laymans terms that a four year old would understand. Hmm, ya think that will become important later on?

Michelle Pfeiffer is his wife, a little jittery, not happy to see her daughter head off to college, jumping at every little sound.

And then the new neighbors move in. Ooh. They fight a lot and leave shoes with bloodstains on the porch and eat TV dinners. Satanic or what?

What Lies Beneath is not a scary ride. Nor is it a smart thriller. It's not even a stunning glimpse of acting or writing. What it is, is a movie with two bankable stars, created by lumping together a heapin' helpin' of Hitchcock techniques, cliches, and easy techniques employed to give false scares to the audience. And hey, fair play, it works well on a modern audience. If you consider yourself to be a movie-goer, then you'll probably feel this film gives you your money's worth. But if you're a FILM-goer, let's face it, you're going to be disappointed.

Now, of course, The Sixth Sense was a monster financial smash when this flick was being considered for production, and you can see that everybody just clambered aboard what they considered the 'new spooky' fad. What they missed was that Sixth Sense was GOOD, whereas this is formula silliness.

However...

When you rip off Hitchcock, you're ripping off the right sort of guy. His films were scary, not because the score was eery, but because you didn't know who to trust. Who's the scary innocent guy and who's the scary guilty guy? With the Hitch, you seldom knew unless he wanted you to. And when you did know, his victims had no clue. You were on the edge of your seat waiting for them to get it in the throat.

In What Lies Beneath, we all know who the bad guy is from the outset, not because the story gives it away, but because the damn trailer does. I mean, for God's sake, don't directors kick up a stink when he marketing department puts out a trailer that gives away everything but the last ten minutes of the film? Do heads not roll? When the last two minutes of Double Jeopardy were given away in the trailer, did nobody learn? When the trailer for Castaway let us all know that Tom Hanks gets off the island, didn't anybody scream and yell about it? When will this idiocy end?

What Lies Beneath was never going to be better than a four star affair, simply because it's second hand. But it's a shame that the few scenes where a genuine atmosphere is built are overshadowed by a tacked on ending (that I'm sure looked better on the printed page than on the screen), sub-plots that lead nowhere, and more crash-scares (you know, those times when you know someone is gonna get it and the phone rings and you jump and curse) than I've ever seen outside of Urban Legend.

On the positive side, this film does avoid that most annoying of Hollywood tactics (outside of ill-considered remakes, terrible sequels and casting women based on their ability to make a miniskirt look good), that terrible habit of filling an entire film, from start to finish, with background music. To the director's credit, this film employs precious little of that sort of garbage and relies on what's on the screen to let you know when to be scared. Kudos for that. Shame about the rest.

Okay, so I'm super-critical. I believe a movie should try to either A) be original B) improve upon something that was original, or C) at least attempt A or B. What Lies Beneath, as capable as it is from time to time, doesn't fill any of those qualities. Thus, it's not worth the price of admission. Another strike for Zemeckis.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3873&reviewer=1
originally posted: 12/14/00 18:39:37
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell a routine ghost flick 3 stars
3/23/11 Nancy the movie did its job, scare the shit out of me. great movie. 4 stars
5/08/09 Samantha Pruitt very suspenseful, i like the story 4 stars
8/13/08 Brenda I think the biggest problem was Harris Ford was the bad guy. He didn't pull it off 2 stars
5/29/08 PAUL SHORTT ANYONE SEEKING EVEN A SMIDGEN OF SUBSTANCE SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE 1 stars
5/15/08 cinderella Great film with wonderful acting from Pfeiffer! 5 stars
12/15/06 R.W.Welch Hokey ending. Otherwise, not a bad suspense flick. 3 stars
8/14/06 Sharon didnt get half of it untill I watched it four times this movie is shitty 2 stars
8/05/06 nicolecrom2678 scared the crap out of me!! Great film! 5 stars
1/12/05 Tom Benton Well-done thriller, faintly reminescent of one of Hitchcock's late works. 4 stars
11/17/04 Daragh Michelle Pfieffer is amazing 4 stars
8/19/04 courtney scared the fricking shit out of me a hve to see for thrill seekers 4 stars
6/03/04 Angel Scary, sexy and very, very damp. Beautiful movie. 4 stars
4/19/04 Nevz More like artificially made. Boring! 3 stars
4/11/04 valerie hart this was a good film not like all the other horror movies.(NOT REALLY A TEEN MOVIE) 4 stars
3/08/04 Vince I enjoyed that one 4 stars
1/08/04 A F Oh yeah this was a movie. 2 stars
9/09/03 Laura Stuart James Remar MADE this movie!!!!! 5 stars
7/24/03 Kit Good thriller...better than a stupid slasher film any day 4 stars
7/18/03 Chris It's not only how scary it is but how it scares you. Artfully made, directed, and acted. 4 stars
6/14/03 Alice Great Thriller, Good one ! 5 stars
4/22/03 Jenny Tullwartz Pfeiffer her usual portrait of mediocrity; Ford would better be left typecast as a hero. 3 stars
4/09/03 JL this movie kicked ass!! 5 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Flawed but pretty suspenseful when needed. Ludicrous ending, though. 3 stars
12/28/02 Rayna Kuzio I love a good ghost film... 4 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum Obvious horror dressed up with money 3 stars
9/24/02 I Can't Swim Belongs on USA Network w/Tim Matheson & Sally Kirkland 1 stars
9/10/02 Ashley Stinson Hitchcock had a great influence on this film. 5 stars
9/09/02 Ben Wasden What Lies Beneath made me jump and I enjoyed it much more than the Sixth Sense. 5 stars
7/20/02 ! Unpredictable, good film 4 stars
7/12/02 KMG Moves slower than a constipated turd 3 stars
4/23/02 Danielle Ophelia Not a bone-crushing fall, but definitely a slight stumble. 3 stars
4/14/02 Shrike Interesting, but on a middle level 3 stars
4/04/02 cat really scary! I never guessed the ending...for once. 5 stars
3/14/02 Valerie Cameron Harrison Ford demonstrates that some performers are better left typecast. 3 stars
2/05/02 femmemina and u thought it's predictable...it left me with mouth agape 4 stars
1/17/02 David A. Really great ghost story--spooky, suspensful, and intelligent. Aquatic effect was original. 5 stars
1/13/02 Andrew Carden Other Then Zemeckis's Direction, This Movie Falls Apart Instantly. 2 stars
1/13/02 breeze4sd great film 5 stars
12/01/01 Mark Conway Total utter pish, fell asleep twice while watching it, predictable plot. 1 stars
11/27/01 sdfr Two leads' Hollywood star profile kinda ruins this one. Fitfully interesting only. 3 stars
10/09/01 Mark Conway this was a crap movie, with no scares at all. 2 stars
9/07/01 Gary Pfieffer is excellent, the direction and cinematography are great, but an overall letdown. 3 stars
9/03/01 Butterbean I've always wanted to see Pfeiffer and Ford together. I guess this film will have to do. 3 stars
8/31/01 Bada Bing Crosby I must have seen the shitty version-movie is so awful I can't believe it 1 stars
8/31/01 Hooker with a Penis A cool movie, kinda Hitchcockian in overall style... Therefore good. 4 stars
8/08/01 Mr. Hat Really suspenseful and heart-pounding. Like a revised "Fatal Attraction." 4 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Some of it kicked ass, most of it sucked ass...I'll go average. 3 stars
5/25/01 I love movies imagine this movie without the big name actors - they'd only show it on TV 3 stars
4/25/01 TigerDream Too slow, too predictable, and not very scary at all 2 stars
4/21/01 Monday Morning HF actually tries some acting. That's worth a point. Otherwise, a SLOW movie. 3 stars
4/18/01 Robbo OK But dont believe the hype its just not scary! 3 stars
4/09/01 ChErRyRiPe Very good, a bit slow but the end was great! 4 stars
3/09/01 The Evil Penguin scarier than Poltergeist 5 stars
3/08/01 Sanja I didn't expect this. 4 stars
3/08/01 Sanja I didn't expect this. 5 stars
2/16/01 Del R This could be shown on the lifetime network "Men bad, Women good" 4 stars
2/13/01 CJ O' Callaghan What the fuck is wrong with u'r reviewers!?- this is a great horror film- scary as hell ! 5 stars
2/09/01 DREDD ending is too typical and overplayed 3 stars
2/06/01 John Lyons First horror movie I've been excited about in a long time! 5 stars
2/02/01 The Bomb 69 very slow the first half, picked up somewhat but the ending was drawn out 3 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman Suspicion + Vertigo+Rear Window +Diabolique 4 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 All style no substance. Ford and Pfieffer keep it from sucking ass 2 stars
12/31/00 Mic Shooting quite good, writing quite bad (examples of both: the ending) 3 stars
12/17/00 Connoisseur it's all cliche... but well done! 4 stars
12/14/00 Kook Cliche. 2 stars
12/14/00 Tom Though a little slow, the ending is climactic, and a great new role for Ford. Great Film! 5 stars
12/03/00 scott wahls full of surprises but moved a little slow, not for those with ADD 4 stars
11/22/00 Ken Sherwood Brilliant, Gripping 5 stars
11/19/00 viking "The Sixth Sense" meets "Psycho" 3 stars
11/17/00 Beck I don't usually scare easily but this made me jump and kept me on the edge of my seat! 4 stars
11/11/00 Matthew Bartley Dull in places but very scary in others 4 stars
11/11/00 C.Chew it's not really that fantastic, but yet not that bad either. so it's up to u to decide! 3 stars
10/25/00 YOUR Movie Expert The Sixth Sense rip-offs have started, this one's slow and has a terrible ending. 1 stars
10/24/00 Gray Stupid score and crappy ending but brilliantly made and does have its shocks. 4 stars
10/05/00 Jackie What Lies Beneath is AWESOME!! I think this movie made me jump about ten times. Great movie 5 stars
9/19/00 Tim A good movie, but there should be a 2 minute warning so you can leave before the ending 4 stars
9/17/00 Leena Varkey Only the cast is good!! 3 stars
9/08/00 Tdis72 Very good movie. Michelle and Harrison does a good job in this shocking thriller. 5 stars
8/09/00 Bueller I was expecting something very Hitchcockian. I was entertained, but seriously disappointed. 3 stars
8/08/00 chris I thought it was cool but who ever wrote it should go back to comic books. 4 stars
8/02/00 IBDN Good until the ending 4 stars
8/01/00 PJ Trish, I too have never screamed ever, but I yelled out" OH God"! I got scared, great movie 5 stars
7/31/00 Fenris Harrison Ford makes it worth the money! 5 stars
7/31/00 Philm Phreak zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 2 stars
7/30/00 my2cents this film was extremely poor 1 stars
7/27/00 extar-bags Good; in the hitchcock style. Worth paying for, even! 4 stars
7/27/00 Eric Hodel Lots of good twists, nearly got my arm ripped off 4 stars
7/26/00 Alexandra the suspense nearly slaughtered me. 5 stars
7/25/00 Krystal Great Movie! 5 stars
7/25/00 Vesse Best movie I've seen all summer!!! 5 stars
7/25/00 Trish Edwards I actually screamed at one point - I NEVER do that! 5 stars
7/24/00 Poetcdh Totally Predictable "surprises" 2 stars
7/22/00 Matt Thiel Left me with a bad taste in my mouth that poisons the rest of the film. 2 stars
7/22/00 Al Hitchcock Loved this film!!! 5 stars
7/22/00 Ginger it scared the shit out of me 5 stars
7/22/00 Rue the Whirl too many tired "scare" tactics, but otherwise engaging enough to keep your attention 4 stars
7/14/00 **~**Persnickety**~** this movie is fucking great, the ending totally took me by surprise! harrison rules! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Jul-2000

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Nov-2000 (M)


Directed by
  Robert Zemeckis

Written by
  Clark Gregg

Cast
  Harrison Ford
  Michelle Pfeiffer
  Wendy Crewson
  James Remar
  Joe Morton
  Miranda Otto



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