After the success story that was M Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense, everybody wanted in on the philosophical psychological thriller genre. What Lies Beneath wasn’t a part of that spectrum, in fact, it was a film far from any sort of philosophy and wanted to provide viewers with a good old-fashioned supernatural horror film. However, with director Robert Zemeckis stepping into the horror genre without much knowledge of how to do a film like this, it was destined to fail.
The film went from being one of the most anticipated movies of the year 2000 to a forgotten piece of fiction in less than a year of its release.
How to Stream or Download What Lies Beneath
To stream or download the film from a digital store of your choice, click on the Download button at the end of this review. If you like Harrison Ford, check out also Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), or The Call of the Wild (2020). For some Michelle Pfeiffer films, check out Batman Returns (1982), Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), or Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).
The Movie Review
The film follows our protagonist Claire Spencer who moves to Vermont with her world-renowned scientist husband named Dr. Norman Spencer. However, Claire isn’t as simple of a horror film character as you’d think, you see, after a horrible car accident that has left gaps in her memory, Claire is a completely different person from who she was before. This combined with their daughter Caitlin leaving her side for a higher education leaves Claire incredibly overwhelmed by her state.
After moving in with Norman, she begins to experience some disturbing supernatural occurrences within their Vermont residence. This results in Claire’s pursuit of knowledge, which will lead to both eye-opening and shocking discoveries.
I can’t begin to word how much I appreciate Robert Zemeckis’ work for Hollywood throughout the 80s up until the late 2000s. He had dipped his hands into every single genre imaginable and came out conquering them. However, the one genre that he will forever regret not being able to master will be horror. It hits very hard when you make a poor horror film if you’re not a horror director whose entire career revolves around cheap laughs and comedic horror moments.
However, director Robert Zemeckis’ work has always been profound, so this one particular upset really put him off the horror genre. What Lies Beneath isn’t a masterpiece in its particular genre, and closes out with a very predictable ending, yet it is definitely one of the few films you should watch if you’re interested in the inner workings of how to not pace a film in the horror genre.
This is a slow-burner film that operates at snail-like pacing. It relies heavily on some heavy-hitting performances from the cast and Robert Zemeckis pulls some amazing performances out of his star-studded duo. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer are both absolutely incredible in this film, giving a performance that nobody expected from a regular old horror flick.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Claire in particular outshines many of the performances from the year 2000, while Harrison Ford pushes out one of the best performances of his career here.
However, that alone doesn’t carry this film at all. In fact, it’s a combination of the insatiable performances by the star cast and the incredibly beautiful cinematography work by cinematographer Don Burgess.
He paints the film in a ton of blues and greys, setting the mood for a gloomy picture that isn’t afraid of being predictable on the off chance its script outshines the competition. However, that doesn’t happen as Clark Gregg’s script massively fails with some boring character interactions and some genuinely annoying plot devices that have plagued the horror genre for ages.
I can commend director Robert Zemeckis for testing out the waters here at least, as his films have always had a lasting effect on the viewers. However, if we’re talking about the sheer quality of this film’s design and how well it flows on the screen, it is definitely not the kind of film I would expect to watch from an Oscar-nominated director.
It is carried by some stellar performances from Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, while the cinematography is doing its job in providing some wonderfully robust camera work and lighting. Yet the screenplay is severely lacking, and the story is inarguably predictable. There is no way that we can consider this film to be anything more than an above-average outing from a critically beloved Hollywood director.