"What Lies Beneath"
Directed by Robert Zemeckis.
Written by Clark Gregg.
Starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 7/23/00
Latest sign that I will have to move out of
DC because of traffic: I went out to Red, a dance club in Dupont
Circle here, last night with some friends, including Bellview
members Mike "Money" Greening and Tena "Guns" Partik. So, after
dropping Mike off about 4 am, I left Dupont and got onto 66 West,
heading out to Falls Church. As I rounded the first bend towards
the Lee Highway exit i.e., the first exit on 66), all I saw was
brake lights. That's right, at 4 AM
FOUR IN THE MORNING!
Justin "Big Daddy" Bell and friends were
caught in traffic! Why, you ask? There apparently was an accident
so horrific that they closed route 66 westbound. They closed the
highway...unfortunately, that happens about once a month here! I
can't take it anymore!! Four in the morning!
Whew. Anyway, today I caught up with
Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer in the new thriller "What Lies
Beneath." I just got off the phone with Libby "Libby" Hiller, and
she thought it was the scariest movie she has seen in her adult
years. I disagree, but I will admit that it has its share of scary
moments, which is what I will talk about today.
The movie itself is average, and it deals
with Claire (Pfeiffer) and Norman(Ford), parents of an 18-year-old
that has just gone off to college. Empty nesters, Norman is
constantly working on a research project at a lab in some city in
Vermont, while Claire is left to the house all by herself all day.
Claire starts hearing things and seeing ghosts, and all of this
leads to a revelation that Norman had an affair with a student at
the school in this random city in Vermont. Ridiculous, "Fatal
Attraction"-style high jinks ensue, and about 140 minutes of your
time ends with one of the longest, Longest, LONGEST endings in the
history of cinema.
But, more importantly, this
hybrid of PG-13 thrillers is all the rage in Hollywood. And I'm
getting sick of this crap fast. As an actor, you have to feel cheap
being involved in a project that calls itself "scary" because it has
those cheap little black cat moments throughout. You know, the ones
where a character is looking for something, there is no music
playing so it is all quiet, and then suddenly...a cat comes out of
the bushes! Ayyyyy!!! Nooooo!!!! Well, "What Lies Beneath" has
not one, not two, but about 20 scenes like this! Twenty!! Most of
the movie is spent watching Claire move around the house looking for
this supposed ghost, and as a two-hour what-is-behind-that-door
movie, it gets old trying to be tense throughout the whole damned
You just can't build a movie around that.
There are essentially only two people in the movie, and Ford has
almost nothing to do with the film in its first hour. And, neither
one of their characters is very interesting; Pfeiffer's character is
a housewife, and to give her dimensions the writers put her in a
garden club! She used to play music professionally, but she
mysteriously gave that up, so in a couple of scenes Pfeiffer is just
playing solitaire. She loves her daughter, but after the first
scenes that introduce us to (and summarily take away) the
daughter--named Caitlin—she is never mentioned again. Claire calls
Caitlin early on because she is lonely, but then she is a distant
memory!! Character actor Joe Morton shows up as the family
psychologist, but he only has two scenes and they are all too brief.
And, that ending! This, friends, neighbors,
countrymen, must be the longest cat-and-mouse ending of all time.
It gives us a cool little twist, and then we spend the next
half-hour watching either the cat or the mouse die or almost die,
taking us from a hallway to a bathroom to a stairwell to a foyer to
a truck to a bridge to a river. I was slitting my wrists by the end
of this thing, praying, hoping that it would just end! I wanted to
get up and leave, but then one character would suddenly not be dead
again and I would have to sit back down!
In fact, it is the ending that left the
funny taste in my mouth, but it just gets comedic watching all of
this play out. I am anxious to see this period of horror/thriller
movies tone down a bit; the formula does not get done very well very
often ("The Sixth Sense" &
"The Blair Witch Project" being some of
the too-few outliers) and "What Lies Beneath" falls short of those
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard