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What Lies Beneath
2000 - PG-13 - NA Mins.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Producer: Jack Rapke, Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey
Written By: Clark Gregg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Remar, Diana Scarwid, Joe Morton
Review by: David Trier
   
As the Sixth Sense-inspired ghost craze is almost over, Zemeckis delivers a reasonably intriguing film with a flimsy premise just in time. Scientist husband (Harrison Ford) cheated on emotionally unstable wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) with a student a little while back. To avoid public humiliation, he does what any well-off, highly educated man would do, he brutally murders her and dumps her in a lake. This apparently does not agree with her plans so she haunts his house, doing every subtle thing she can to clue the wife in.

This is not the most awe-inspiring plot, but the film is carried well by Michelle Pfeiffer's performance. As the story is presented almost entirely from her perspective, she never knows more than we do and vice versa. This keeps us watching even though the first hour of the film is pretty inconsequential. You spend the whole time wondering if this slow and overly suspenseful journey is going to finally deliver, and thankfully it does. Whereas the first several acts of the film are devoted to things like radios turning on, candles going out, and doors opening on their own (things that are only scary when accompanied by sudden bursts in the soundtrack), the last segments of the film are legitimately thrilling. One notable sequence involves Pfeiffer being drugged and paralyzed in a filling bathtub and although she isn't moving or speaking, it is the most exciting part of the film. There is a whole section of the film devoted to her suspecting her neighbor (James Remar) of murdering his wife and thereby producing the haunting, but it turns out that... no, he didn't and you just wasted a lot of film. This is the biggest problem with this movie in general. Although it is very well acted, shot, and edited, there just isn't enough story to warrant a feature. So the film seems stretched slowly and solemnly until the admittedly worthwhile finale.

Michelle Pfeiffer does an exceptional job. Definitely the best acting I've ever seen her do. Her character is well fleshed out and those huge eyes are perfect for displaying terror. To give him credit, Harrison Ford employs all three of his facial expressions in this film: anger, confusion, and mild amusement. He does an acceptably creepy job but it just isn't a good part for him. It's actually pretty funny to see the guy who made the phrase "I didn't kill my wife" famous in The Fugitive do really evil things to try and kill his wife in this movie.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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