Sunday, September 25, 2016

What Lies Beneath

Movie Name: What Lies Beneath
Year of Release: 2000
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Michelle Pfeiffer, Harrison Ford, Katharine Towne, James Remar, Diana Scarwid, Wendy Crewson, Amber Valletta, Joe Morton
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Following the success of "Contact", the year 2000 saw the release of two Robert Zemeckis films, with "What Lies Beneath" premiering first, followed by "Cast Away" a few months later. Both films were huge commercial hits, with the latter also garnering Oscar nominations. "What Lies Beneath" is a thriller which functions as a Hitchcock homage. The film follows the story of a couple, Claire and Norman Spencer. Claire, a retired concert cellist, has just sent off her daughter to college, and keeps herself busy around the house, while Norman is a research scientist at a nearby University. Claire starts witnessing strange events around the house, hearing voices, and even seeing the face of a young woman reflected in the water. Initially Claire thinks that these events may be related to their neighbors, but after starting therapy, she actually decides to make contact with the ghost. What she finds out is beyond what she expected.
"What Lies Beneath" is a smaller film in scale for Robert Zemeckis, who has continuously pushed the envelope for decades in terms of what can be shown onscreen. Among his many boundary pushing films there's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", "Forrest Gump" and more recently "The Walk". "What Lies Beneath" is best described as a ghost story, where the narrative slowly reveals the true culprit behind the ghost that is haunting the house of the central character. Sadly, the characters are never fully developed beyond the usual cliches, but Robert Zemeckis manages to create a sense of dread, and suspense that makes the film successful and watchable. It's an impeccably assembled film, with a solid central performance from Michelle Pfeiffer, and an elegant cinematography from Don Burgess. What the film lacks in novelty and depth, it compensates with style and thrills. Worth watching.