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 Phil Coulson in the Marvel film and television franchise – What Lies Beneath is a star-powered thriller/chiller directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film boasts the star-wattage of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer, playing a seemingly happily married couple, enjoying life at their idyllic, lakeside Vermont home.
The pairing of Ford and Pfeiffer, prompts a strong reminder of the golden days of Hollywood leading men and ladies. Ford channels his usual winning brand of ‘can’t be arsed cool’, while Pfeiffer plays a nice line of restrained, yet increasingly neurotic, leaving the audience plenty of breathing room to play their own 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 you know. All you really need to know, is that all is not what it seems.
Although the spectre of Hitchcock often looms large over proceedings, having a talented director like Zemeckis in the chair ensures a good level of 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 that 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 very well put together piece of work from a mainstream director who understands the blueprint of making these kind of thrillers pay off. With engaging star performances and a tone that flits curiously between that of horror and thriller, there are many things to admire and enjoy. 3.5/5