What Lies Beneath

 
(i)

 

Cross between Fatal Attraction, Poltergeist.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2000
  • Running Time: 130 minutes

What parents need to know

Violence

Some lot of tension, characters in peril, scary surprises, discussions of murder.

Sex

Sexual references and situations, references to adultery.

Language

Brief strong language.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the movie may scare young teens, especially those without much exposure to the conventions of horror movies. Younger teens may also be concerned about the marital conflicts and adultery displayed in the film. The movie has sexual references and situations, brief strong language, and many scenes of peril, suspense, and betrayal.

What's the story?

WHAT LIES BENEATH is about Norman (Harrison Ford), a professor of genetics, and his wife Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), a former cellist who is a bit at a loss after her only daughter leaves for college. But it turns out that her empty nest is not quite as empty as she thought. There seems to be a malevolent presence in the house. Norman, a scientist, does not believe in such things, and sends her to a psychiatrist (Joe Morton). At first, Claire thinks it is the spirit of a murdered faculty wife. There are some scary surprises, and what lies beneath turns out to be lies.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Think Fatal Attraction crossed with Poltergeist and considerably dumbed down, and you have an idea of what this movie has in store for you. There are a couple of surprises and chills, but I am sure it is nothing compared to the horror in store for whomever persuaded Harrison Ford to follow up Random Hearts with another movie that fails so miserably. And that horror is nothing compared to what is in store for the idiot who decided that the advertising campaign for this movie should give away one of the two big surprises. To the extent that the first half of the movie had any suspense or interest whatsoever, it has been destroyed by telling the audience that it is all a red herring before they even come in the door.

The movie seems to try to follow a recipe -- two parts Hitchcock to one part ghost story -- with elements from Rear Window, Vertigo, and Rebecca. Doors swing open. Hinges squeal. Shadows loom. Music swells. And Michelle Pfeiffer, looking a little skeletal herself, gasps and runs from menaces from this world and the next. This movie tries to do for baths what "Psycho" did for showers. But it doesn't work. Hitchcock knew that suspense had to be about something. He brilliantly universalized his own neuroses to tap into the audience's horrified fascination. Director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future) tries to do that here, enticing us with the messy reality under the surface of the apparently perfect couple. But Norman and Claire (and Ford and Pfeiffer) don't draw us in. Norman's insecurity over his father's achievements and Claire's loss of a sense of self over giving up her career seem colored-by-numbers. And, though they are two of the most talented and entrancing stars ever, neither of them is up to the tasks set before them by this script.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether they believe in the supernatural, and what they might do if they felt a ghost had moved into their home. Some teens will be interested in finding out about the paranormal research facilities at Duke. Families could also talk about the way that all actions have consequences, on a psychological level, if not a supernatural one.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 21, 2000
DVD release date:January 30, 2001
Cast:Diana Scarwid, Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director:Robert Zemeckis
Studio:Universal Pictures
Genre:Thriller
Run time:130 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:tension, violence, horror, sensuality, and language

This review of What Lies Beneath was written by

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 25, 2011
 

scary horror movie is good but iffy

violence: lots, lots and lots of violence is implied in this sexed up scary movie. characters in peril and more sex: reference to adultery and sexual references and situations. language: theere is some pretty strong language in this film
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written byharrisonfordlova January 13, 2009
 

lame but awesome

love it :P my title says it all. haha. harry is adorable xox
Adult Written bywonder dove December 27, 2012
 

A nice, creepy thriller.

This film is quite good when you're in the mood for something a little creepy and you're into supernatural stuff. It's somewhat slow but the story is interesting enough to keep watching. I owned it on VHS for the longest time and just finally bought the DVD! Michelle Pfeiffer plays a mom named Claire who's only child is going off to college. Claire seems lonely most of the time even while living with just her scientist husband who works a lot. She meets a mysterious woman next door who seems utterly sad and afraid but after meeting the woman's husband, Claire discovers by him that his wife is actually dead. Claire then believes that the husband murdered her and that the woman's spirit is trying to tell Claire a message. Paranormal activities start happening around the house especially when her husband is working. The real truth finally unfolds with a nice twist at the end. The film makes you think and feel - may have you looking over your shoulder half the time. Violence isn't bad - mainly scary themed situations. There is references to a murder. Sexual content is average - references to adultery, Claire acts sexy in a red dress in one scene, Claire and her husband mistake late night moaning sounds for sex from outside, so they get excited and hop into bed. That's about it. There is some strong language for a PG-13. Good for teens as young as 15 who are interested, although I think more older 18+ and adults will enjoy and appreciate it most.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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