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What Lies Beneath (2000)
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Review Date: July 13, 2000
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Clark Gregg
Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey, Jack Rapke
Actors:
Michelle Pfeiffer
Harrison Ford
Plot:
The life of a happily married couple living in Vermont is suddenly jarred from its foundation when an entity (yes, that's right people, a ghost!) invades their home. The haunting is particularly geared towards the wife, who just can't seem to figure out what the heck is going on. The workaholic husband is also worried, but mostly because he thinks that his wife is going bonkers. Together, the couple attempt to solve the mystery of their haunted home.
Critique:
A well-crafted thriller, this movie delivers on various fronts including the creepy suspense, the cheap scares via the excellent camerawork, the superior score, the even better use of silence, the solid acting card punched in by one Michelle Pfeiffer and the ending which grabbed me by the nuts and refused to let go. Does anybody remember a director by the name of Alfred Hitchcock? (sarcasm, folks). Well, Robert Zemeckis sure does and he's made certain to watch every single one of his movies in order to recreate a lot of that superb Hitchcockian feel, and by golly, it seems to have worked. But before I unwillingly make this film feel like a thrill-ride, please understand that it isn't one by any means, in fact, the only real "action" in the film takes place during its final half hour. This film works in a different way. It's slow, methodical and even a little longer than it should be, but once it gets going, I was hooked with a line and a sinker. Even Ford manages to make us forget RANDOM HEARTS (5/10) for a couple of hours, and effectively emotes more than one feeling in this film (hey, it's a start!). And the story, you may ask?

Well, I can't honestly say that this film is original. In fact, it's not. I recognized various elements from other suspense features roaming around in this one, with the strongest vibes resounding from REAR WINDOW, FATAL ATTRACTION (8/10), STIR OF ECHOES (8/10) and PSYCHO. Okay, the last one is probably because the "bathtub" scene in this film is comparable to the shower scene in the latter, but only because it might actually instill a fear in some people to take more baths. Actually, there is a more than obvious homage to PSYCHO as well, so I don't think Zemeckis is trying to fool anybody here. But unoriginality aside, the film does work and work very well indeed. I personally am not a very jumpy person, but Mrs. JoBlo was bouncing off the walls at every other "boo!" moment presented in the film, and so were quite a few others. The film is extremely effective in that non-teen horror flick kinda way because it actually manages to creep you out before deafening the room with its deadly silence, and then boom! Fun stuff. The last thirty minutes also slapped me silly with appreciation for the work of the man behind the camera, and an excellent ending which had its twists and turns, some very tense moments and a satisfying resolution. But I would consider myself an ass if I didn't mention the consistently great work continued here by Michelle Pfeiffer for this film. This lady is bursting with talent, secures you in the film with her appearance as an everyday woman, and is completely gorgeous to boot! Wow. Give her an Oscar already, goddamit!

Don't go see this movie if you're the type of person who is gonna be asking your cinema partner the same question every two minutes "why don't they just leave the house if it's haunted?". Listen friends, this is a movie. Work with a little suspension of disbelief (or naiveté in this scenario) and enjoy the movie for the creeps that it does manage to sway in you. It's kinda like the movie that THE HAUNTING (3/10) was billed as being, but wasn't even close. And this one might actually scare you crapless if sitting at home alone in the dark. Take a friend, squeeze an arm (or whatever else is close) and enjoy the first great thriller of the summer.

PS: Pooh on the damn marketing people at Dreamworks for spoiling a good chunk of this film for everyone. It would've been nice NOT to know some of the things that they give away in the trailer, but alas, tis the business of show, and I guess that's all part of the biz.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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