What Lies Beneath (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner18/10/2000

Ford and Pfeiffer are both back on top form in this enjoyable supernatural thriller with an extra helping of Hitchcock.

Claire Spencer (Pfeiffer) is a retired musician, still recovering from a traumatic car crash one year previously. As the story starts, she ‘loses’ her daughter to college, and, as her brilliant geneticist husband Norman (Ford) throws himself into his work, she gradually comes to suspect that their luxurious Vermont home may be harboring a sinister secret…

What Lies Beneath would like very much to be this year’s The Sixth Sense. It isn’t, but that’s not to say it’s a bad film – the film does exactly what it sets out to do, creating an agreeably spooky atmosphere (it’s amazing what a dodgy front door will do), administering the right amount of spill-your-popcorn shocks and delivering at least one genuinely surprising twist (though you should avoid the trailer).

More importantly, it’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t rely on a blazing shoot-out for its climax. Also, though the film seems slightly too long, the slow atmosphere-building start is more than compensated for by the cracking final forty minutes or so.

The actors are both on top form, with Ford seemingly glad to be taking a back seat for once. Pfeiffer has one slightly ropey over-acting moment, but otherwise does a good job of conveying someone who may or may not be cracking up.

Zemeckis, (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit as well as the appalling Forrest Gump and Contact), is, at the very least, a director who knows what he’s doing. What Lies Beneath is directed with a definite sense of playfulness, with deliberate Hitchcock references (to Rear Window, Psycho and Vertigo to name but three) coming thick and fast – even the music explicitly evokes Psycho.

In the end, you feel that Hitchcock (the self-proclaimed Master of Suspense) would have appreciated the compliment and enjoyed the result. Perfect Saturday-night entertainment. Running time: 129 mins

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Content updated: 14/12/2017 06:24

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