What Lies Beneath

What Lies Beneath Image
Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 35 Critics What's this?

User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 54 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: A professor (Ford) investigates the murder of a beautiful college student who has been appearing to his wife (Pfeiffer).

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 35
  2. Negative: 4 out of 35
  1. 83
    As it unwinds, What Lies becomes both masterful and preposterous.
  2. 75
    An uncommonly playful fright machine -- a fun house factory of scares.
  3. Reviewed by: Emanuel Levy
    70
    A thriller that tries aggressively, but not entirely successfully, to deliver the goods of three genres -- suspense, supernatural and horror.
  4. 50
    Never reaches much beyond the surface, and what lies there is all too predictable.
  5. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    50
    Ford and Pfeiffer deliver craftsmanlike work, but the film steadily unravels as Zemeckis tries to ratchet up the suspense.
  6. 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.
  7. What Lies Beneath is my head on the movie theater floor, snoozing through this film.

See all 35 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 15
  2. Negative: 4 out of 15
  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 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. Expand
  2. 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 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
  3. Jan 28, 2011
    9
    A smart thriller with brilliant acting from Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Definitively one of my favorites. While focusing on theA 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. Expand
  4. 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.
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  5. Aaron.
    Aug 30, 2007
    6
    Above average (average horror flick) in terms of cinematography, acting, and a very effective score. And there are some great chilling Above average (average horror flick) in terms of cinematography, acting, and a very effective score. And there are some great chilling moments. But it gets pretty ridiculous pretty quick. Expand
  6. JakeG
    Sep 9, 2006
    1
    A stupid plotline really. I mean ghosts in a house? Ghosts going into people's bodies? Corny.
  7. 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**) Expand

See all 15 User Reviews

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