What Lies Beneath (2000) Directed by Robert Zemeckis. With Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Remar and Miranda Otto.
Working from a screenplay by Clark Gregg, now best known as Agent Coulson in the Marvel film and television franchise, What Lies Beneath is a star-powered thriller-chiller directed by Robert Zemeckis. It boasts the star-wattage of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, playing a seemingly happily married couple, enjoying life at their idyllic Vermont lakeside home.
The pairing of Ford and Pfeiffer, prompts a reminder of the golden days of Hollywood leads. Ford channels his usual winning brand of can’t-be’arsed cool, while Pfeiffer plays a line of restrained, yet increasingly frazzled, leaving plenty of breathing room to play guessing games as to what might be afoot. Like much of the Alfred Hitchcock work that it is inspired by, this is a film that works better the less plot detail we know.
Although the ghost of Hitchcock often looms large over proceedings, having a gifted director like Zemeckis in the chair ensures a level of high quality. The gradual sense of intrigue and suspense is well applied, carefully constructing each piece of the jigsaw. Of course, with any jigsaw, you can usually see the final picture well before its completion and while this might be the case with What Lies Beneath, it doesn’t mean it won’t temporarily unsettle and thrill you.
I can’t leap up-and-down in excitement about this film, but it’s still a well put together piece of work from a mainstream director who understands the basic blueprint of engineering these thrillers. With engaging star performances and a tone that flits curiously between that of horror and thriller, there are many things to admire and enjoy.