What Lies Beneath
Reviewed by Ned Daigle
Rating: 6 Beans
ow would you like to pick up a new murder-mystery novel and have the preface say, "Well, Lady Woodforde was murdered by the butler but here's the investigation of how I THOUGHT it was the maid." You wouldn't? Why, because now you know who got killed and by whom and that you were going to be strung along thinking it was someone else? Such is the ghosty-mystery flick "What Lies Beneath".
Standing on it's own, "What Lies Beneath" isn't a very good movie, but it was someone's insane notion that all the trailers would basically explain what's going on and why and with whom so that no amount of suspense could possibly be built up to generate even an iota of mystery. Very unwise indeed.
The film does, indeed, begin strongly. Michelle Pfieffer and Harrison Ford are a couple who've just bought and renovated a house. A year ago, Pfieffer had been involved in a serious car accident and has little memory of it, and still seems a little on edge. This is perpetrated by the fact she has sent off her only child to college and basically spends long hours home alone. One day she has a strange, tense conversation with the lady who lives next door. Several days pass and she begins to think the lady has vanished, and it is at this time that she believes a ghost has arrived at the house trying to make contact with her. She believes her neighbor has been murdered and her ghost is trying to tell her something.
I have to admit, I was somewhat suckered at this point. The acting by Pfieffer is top-notch, Robert Zemeckis' direction is fluid (if culled a bit too much from Hitchcock) and the strange ghostly goings-on in the house are well-done and tense. But then I had to stop myself.
Why, you ask? Because you know, as well as I do, that the ghost in question is NOT that of the neighbor, but of a young student of Ford's whom he had an affair with and is now seeking revenge. So, basically, the movie functions as a waiting game until these facts arise. And it's a long, drawn out wait indeed.
Yes, eventually, Pfieffer does make the connections and confronts Ford. It's at this point the film truly plummets off a cliff. Ford admits to killing the student to cover up the affair and proceeds to immediately go bananas and begins try and kill Pfieffer. It's like "I love you honey, but now I have to kill you."
The climax of "What Lies Beneath" is reduced to your basic slasher cliches that have been used ad nauseum complete with a supposedly dead Ford leaping back up to attack again like Jason from "Friday the 13th".
After the credits rolled, it became clear, that even if I didn't know anything about the movie's plot I would have thought it sucked. Maybe the advertising people involved with "What Lies Beneath"s promotion felt the same way and used the suspense spoiling trailer as a warning to audiences to just stay away.
I guess I am just the dope who didn't listen.
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