What Lies Beneath

Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 35
  2. Negative: 4 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Gemma Files
    60
    An unexpectedly adult emotional rollercoaster with some very cold and unsettling things to say about men, women, marriage, and the lies we so often tell each other.
  2. This slow, derivative chiller (which lifts liberally from "Ghost Story," "Rear Window" and "A Stir of Echoes") wastes far too much time on red herrings and telegraphs its plot points with painfully obvious dialogue.
  3. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    50
    Ford and Pfeiffer deliver craftsmanlike work, but the film steadily unravels as Zemeckis tries to ratchet up the suspense.
  4. A picture sufficiently shallow that you'll discover everything that lies beneath it well before the end.
  5. 50
    Lacking a smarter screenplay, it milks the genuine skills of its actors and director for more than it deserves, and then runs off the rails in an ending more laughable than scary.
  6. Reviewed by: Jeff Giles
    50
    A slick but surprisingly empty genre movie that builds to a not particularly shocking shock.
  7. Dumb, dumb, dumb - borrowing scare tactics from Hitchcock and other suspense masters, but forgetting basic story.telling essentials such as character development and logical exposition.
  8. Suggest a Clintons-at-home scenario for 2001 -- haunted by the ghosts of dalliances past.
  9. There is one good, legitimate scare in Robert Zemeckis' quasi-ghost thriller What Lies Beneath, and that's just not enough for a movie that lasts more than two hours.
  10. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    50
    The scares are Hichcock hand-me-downs.
  11. 50
    Never reaches much beyond the surface, and what lies there is all too predictable.
  12. 50
    Startlingly shallow even for a summer movie.
  13. 40
    Glazes over faster than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and neither is very flavorful after sitting around for a while.
  14. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    40
    This impeccable ghost story is utterly old-fashioned, a straightforward suspenser with no twists.
  15. 40
    Sparse and implausible screenplay.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 15
  2. Negative: 4 out of 15
  1. Apr 9, 2016
    7
    The imposing shadow of Hitchcock looms large over Robert Zemeckis' "What Lies Beneath," a thriller that tries aggressively, but not entirelyThe imposing shadow of Hitchcock looms large over Robert Zemeckis' "What Lies Beneath," a thriller that tries aggressively, but not entirely successfully, to deliver the goods of three genres -- suspense, supernatural and horror -- for the price of one movie. Revisiting the turf of stylish thrillers, in which an upscale yuppie couple is haunted by mistakes of the past, story centers on a genius researcher and his loving wife, played by Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, whose seemingly happy marriage and stable life are utterly shaken by mysterious events that spiral out of control. Intermittently scary but not fully absorbing, this DreamWorks-Fox co-production should grab strong opening numbers due to shrewd marketing that positions pic as an adult thriller.

    Top flight talent on both sides of the camera can’t quite disguise the B-quality of Clark Gregg’s script, a patchwork composed of bits and pieces from Hitchcock’s suspensers, the Gothic “haunted house” tradition, “Fatal Attraction”-like cheap thrill sensations, creepy supernatural mysteries like “The Sixth Sense” and so on.

    “What Lies Beneath” won’t restore Ford or Pfeiffer to pre-eminence. On the one hand, the old-fashioned material is inferior to their talents, while on the other, it’s not spooky or stylish enough to become a must-see for the goodtimes-hungry summer masses.First act is an unabashed reworking of “Rear Window” with a gender reversal. Norman and Claire Spencer (Ford and Pfeiffer) move to a picturesque house near a Vermont lake after sending their daughter to college. As soon as they settle down, Claire begins to suspect that there’s something wrong with their neighbors, Warren and Mary Feur (James Remar and Miranda Otto).

    Behind a fence that divides the two estates, she hears vocal arguments, then painful cries. Like Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s classic, she’s glued to her window with spectacles, soon beginning to fear that Warren has murdered his wife. Norman, who’s totally consumed with his research project and upcoming conference, dismisses her reports.

    Top flight talent on both sides of the camera can’t quite disguise the B-quality of Clark Gregg’s script, a patchwork composed of bits and pieces from Hitchcock’s suspensers, the Gothic “haunted house” tradition, “Fatal Attraction”-like cheap thrill sensations, creepy supernatural mysteries like “The Sixth Sense” and so on.

    “What Lies Beneath” won’t restore Ford or Pfeiffer to pre-eminence. On the one hand, the old-fashioned material is inferior to their talents, while on the other, it’s not spooky or stylish enough to become a must-see for the goodtimes-hungry summer masses.First act is an unabashed reworking of “Rear Window” with a gender reversal. Norman and Claire Spencer (Ford and Pfeiffer) move to a picturesque house near a Vermont lake after sending their daughter to college. As soon as they settle down, Claire begins to suspect that there’s something wrong with their neighbors, Warren and Mary Feur (James Remar and Miranda Otto).

    In a problematic sequence that lacks much credibility, an angry Claire accuses Warren of murdering his wife at a public function attended by Norman’s notable peers, only to realize that his wife is there.

    The movie then drops the Hitchcockian subplot — which proves to be a teaser — and turns into a supernatural mystery revolving around a lone woman in a haunted house.

    Some humor is integrated into the proceedings by the presence of Claire’s cynical divorcee friend, Jody (a splendid Diana Scarwid), in scenes in which the two discuss witchcraft and try to communicate with ghosts on a Ouija board.

    Changing gears again, third chapter centers on Claire’s discovery that her husband had an affair with a girl who is missing. Working as a private eye, she conducts an obsessive investigation to discover the girl’s whereabouts, including a visit to the girl’s distressed mother.

    Echoing motifs of Bernard Herrmann’s music for Hitchcock, Alan Silvetsri’s score contributes effectively to the menacing atmosphere.

    Tech credits are high grade, especially widescreen lensing by Zemeckis’ longtime collaborator Don Burgess, which keeps things fluid during the numerous house-bound scenes. There are notable trick shots within tight and confined spaces, good use of multiple mirrors that both reflect and distort Claire’s reality and long takes that allow the actors to develop a scene organically.

    Zemeckis, best known for combining storytelling skills and technical wizardry (“Back to the Future,” “Forrest Gump,” “Contact”), operates on a new turf, directing a thriller for the first time.

    All along, the feeling is that the filmmakers don’t trust the core material and try to compensate with a complicated storyline and overbaked production.
    Full Review »
  2. Jan 8, 2015
    8
    Very Hitchcock like movie. True to his style in every way. Well written, well edited, well acted. Naysayers will be out there, but then, notVery Hitchcock like movie. True to his style in every way. Well written, well edited, well acted. Naysayers will be out there, but then, not everyone loves Hitchcock, either, so there you go. Full Review »
  3. Feb 4, 2013
    1
    What lies beneath? Definitely the most impressive and comprehensive collection of cliches, nonsense absurdities and boring moments everWhat lies beneath? Definitely the most impressive and comprehensive collection of cliches, nonsense absurdities and boring moments ever assembled in this pretentious couldn't-possibly-be-slower film. Nothing happens for the first 90 minutes. Pfeiffer wanders in her home trying to look troubled, has pointless encounters with neighbors, plays some ouija with a friend and from time to time exchanges with Ford some dull dialogue that sounds anything but realistic. And when filming nothing seems to have reached it's limits, well, you just get some more. The final twist doesn't come as a surprise -remember, you had 90' to try and guess it out, nothing was happening on the screen- and the final confrontation is sooooo ludicrous that it keeps me wondering if it has been stolen from the Scary Movie franchise. But surprisingly, I actually rather enjoyed the ending. It gets hysterical as every step seems to have been written under the strict rule of "of all options my characters have, what would be the least logical or probable?" This pure overdose of nonsense situations gets really funny, and comes as a nice and more than welcomed frustration relief after sitting through nearly two hours of pretentious pseudo hitchcokian homage. (I know I got Sir Alfred's last name spelled wrong, but it keeps being deleted by some poorly encoded "Politically Correct" protection stuff that doesn't seem to stand the second syllable of Hitchco**) Full Review »