What Lies Beneath

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 54
  2. Negative: 4 out of 54

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User Reviews

  1. RandyJ
    Sep 9, 2006
    10
    A Brilliant first-rate classic. Mind blowing intelligence and incredible acting deliver the small blows. Sheer terrifying brilliance delivers the rest. A perfectly cast mind-blowing tour-de-force, stunning and superb. The greatest horror movie of our time.
  2. [Anonymous]
    Feb 1, 2001
    10
    Excellent! Really scary!
  3. [Anonymous]
    Feb 2, 2001
    8
    The suspense was KILLER. Just the type of movie I enjoy.
  4. ConradR.
    Jul 9, 2001
    8
    Eerie, scary, mysterious; doesn't go "right-over-the-top" like modern thrillers and horrors.
  5. JohnS.
    Aug 10, 2006
    9
    What makes this movie great is that it's essentially a chick flick that descends into a suspense thriller. The scares and special effects are given in quality, not quantity, sprinkled perfectly throughout the plot. The ending requires you to stretch your brain a little, but the setup leaves you so desperately wanting a manifestation of the fears involved that you take it. Pfeiffer What makes this movie great is that it's essentially a chick flick that descends into a suspense thriller. The scares and special effects are given in quality, not quantity, sprinkled perfectly throughout the plot. The ending requires you to stretch your brain a little, but the setup leaves you so desperately wanting a manifestation of the fears involved that you take it. Pfeiffer does an excellent job carrying the load, and Ford is refreshing as a villain. Expand
  6. raVen
    Nov 3, 2003
    8
    (8.5) I liked it. The many moody allusions to water in its different forms (steam, fog, lake, bathtub, snow, etc.) are nice throughout, and adds subplot that one might use for a research paper. Having to cross water before the cell phone will reach the outside world was a nice touch. But trust me--the soundtrack is absolutely KILLER for driving around in the country at night!
  7. Jan 28, 2011
    9
    A smart thriller with brilliant acting from Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Definitively one of my favorites. While focusing on the problems of an apparently normal relationship, "What Lies Beneath" has some original scary moments and much suspense.
  8. 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, not everyone loves Hitchcock, either, so there you go.
  9. Apr 9, 2016
    7
    The 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 aThe 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.
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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
  1. 30
    At once illogical and insultingly stupid, filled with dead-end twists and the sort of dialogue that makes a mockery of actual adult relations.
  2. 40
    Glazes over faster than a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and neither is very flavorful after sitting around for a while.
  3. 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.