What Lies Beneath Movie Poster Image

What Lies Beneath

(i)

 

Cross between Fatal Attraction, Poltergeist.
  • 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/Streaming 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

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byharrisonfordlova January 13, 2009

lame but awesome

love it :P my title says it all. haha. harry is adorable xox
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
Teen, 14 years old Written byAttack Attack April 27, 2009
I liked this movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence