What Lies Beneath


What Lies Beneath

Critics Consensus

Robert Zemeckis is unable to salvage an uncompelling and unoriginal film.



Total Count: 125


Audience Score

User Ratings: 278,902
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Movie Info

It had been a year since Dr. Norman Spencer betrayed his beautiful wife Claire. But with Claire oblivious to the truth and the affair over, Norman's life and marriage seem perfect--so perfect that when Claire tells him of hearing mysterious voices and seeing a young woman's wraithlike image in their home, he dismisses her mounting terror as delusion. However, as Claire moves closer to the truth, it becomes clear that this apparition will not be dismissed, and has come back for Dr. Norman Spencer... and his beautiful wife.

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Michelle Pfeiffer
as Claire Spencer
Harrison Ford
as Dr. Norman Spencer
Joe Morton
as Dr. Drayton
Mitch Carter
as Loop Group
Sloane Shelton
as Mrs. Templeton
Moosie Drier
as Loop Group
Bridget Hoffman
as Loop Group
Micole Mercurio
as Mrs. Frank
Dennison Samaroo
as PhD Student No. 1
Donna Lynn Leavy
as Loop Group
Jennifer Tung
as PhD Student No. 2
Rachel Singer
as PhD Student No. 3
Edie Mirman
as Loop Group
Daniel Zelman
as PhD Student No. 4
Donald Taylor
as Male EMT Worker
Philece Sampler
as Loop Group
Iake Eissinmann
as Loop Group
David Cowgill
as Loop Group
Newell Alexander
as Loop Group
Claudette Wells
as Loop Group
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Critic Reviews for What Lies Beneath

All Critics (125) | Top Critics (31)

Audience Reviews for What Lies Beneath

  • Sep 23, 2012
    Man this movie dragged for me. I could not stay interested long enough to be interested in the story.
    Red L Super Reviewer
  • Mar 16, 2012
    I know when I think of the guy behind "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", "Used Cars", "Romancing the Stone", the "Back to the Future" trilogy, "Forrest Gump" and "Cast Away", I think of the perfect choice to direct a horror film. See, you think I'm being sarcastic, but Bob Zemeckis went on to make Crispin Glover intimidating, and that's quite the feat. Now, granted, it took turning him into a giant, nine-foot-tall, burn-victim-looking, screaming lunatic with external eardrums and thirst for human blood, but hey, no matter how many steps Mr. Zemeckis had too take, he got there eventually. It certainly helped that the cartoons that he's made in recent years are pretty messed up looking; which, don't get me wrong, as flawed as his animation tastes are, they're still pretty impressive, but man, when they said that he needed to have "The Polar Express" touch the inner Christmas spirit, I don't think that they meant that he had to actually have the characters stare into your soul. No, but seriously though, Zemeckis has since and even before this film proved himself to be a more than competent thriller director, and, by extension, a wildly diverse director, because he'll do some major nail-biters and then turn right around to charm your hearts, but do it very slowly, as we very much so saw in 2000 when he presented this film and then "Stay Awake"-I mean "Cast Away". Don't get me wrong, "Cast Away" was a brilliant, emotionally-riveting powerhouse of a borderline masterpiece that served as an awesome testament to both Tom Hanks' stellar acting abilities, as well as Zemeckis' stellar storytelling abilities, but if you're expecting a thrill ride like this other film that he did in 2000, then brother, you just walked into the wrong section of the video store. Well, to be fair, you can't be too far off, because I've got to tell you, don't expect this film to drift a little too far from the slow zone in some spots. He was never qualified to rival Michael Bay, in terms of keeping up constant momentum, but Zemeckis managed to keep out of the slow tides of the filmmaking waters for quite some time during the '90s, but now that he's in the 2000s, he's diving back into those waters, and not just figuratively. Man, I don't know how many movies about water this guy can knock out in a year, but if you ask me, he probably should have just stuck with "Cast Away" and saved this for later, when he wouldn't get confused and think that this is supposed to be that overly meditative and ponderous character study. Now, this is usually the time where I jump in and say, "No, it's not as slow as 'Cast Away'", but really, it's almost slower than "Cast Away", or maybe I'm just saying that because where the slowness of "Cast Away" was purposeful, the slowness here makes this film more of a snoozer more often than a thriller, with all of the moments of exposition - if you want to call it that, seeing as there's pretty limited development that's not rather forced - being pumped with a quiet, dry aura that takes a toll on you and leaves you to often become disengaged, a problem made worse by repetition and pacelessness. It's a story told way too slowly, and I know the way I'm putting it, I'm making it sound as though it deserves better than that, but really, this story isn't terribly worth telling... again. The story, the cast - which goes so far as to include the sassy, thinks-she's-all-that just because she's spiritual, middle-aged friend of the female lead - and yes, even some of the scaring methods are so wildly same-old-same-old that you can't believe it, and that alone is almost enough to keep this film from being genuinely good. However, although this film doesn't deliver on extreme uniqueness, that doesn't mean that it can't put its conventions to good use. Again, you won't walk away terribly satisfied, but Zemeckis continues to prove himself a powerful filmmaker, and while the script and slowness keep Zemeckis from living up to his full potential, he keeps you going with his style alone. The camera's not doing all of that swooping and diving that I love out of Zemeckis' films so much, especially out of his other 2000 film that managed to use the cinematography to brilliantly pull you into the world. This cinematography certainly doesn't slam you, smack-dab in the middle of the situation, though it does have enough subtle essence to slowly ease you into this world, yet more than cinematographer Don Burgess, I would like to give credit to Zemeckis himself for his atmosphere that is, as I said, more often than not quiet and dry, but when things pick up, you're on the edge of your seat. True, the script does call for too many blasted jump scares, and often anti-climactic ones at that (Hey, at least it wasn't a cat), yet when it comes to "genuine" chills, Zemeckis delivers much more often than not, playing with the fabulous sound design and Alan Silvestri's creepy score in a fashion that really emphasizes the emptiness and quietness of some of the most offputting scenarios, and while you do watch Michelle Pfeiffer walk around, waiting for something to startle here way too much, it's rarely, if ever ineffective, thanks to Zemeckis' understated strong ability to set pure tension. Those moments of intensity and atmosphere really wake you up and always at just the right time, which isn't to say that you're completely out of it with the film, because even at its lowest, the film gives you some degree of investment, thanks almost entirely to Catwoman-I mean Michelle Pfeiffer. Sorry Michelle, but it's going to be hard to forgive you for showing that you don't need to be Halle Berry to be terrible as Catwoman, yet this film really helps you on your road to redemption. It's such an obvious performance that you shouldn't expect to get much more than just screams and tears out of, yet Miss Pfeiffer plays the part as well as anyone, giving off such a leading presence that all but makes up for the lack of development, as you can sense plenty of pain within the Claire Spencer character. Again, because her role is so very much a cheap way to show off one's acting abilities, Pfeiffer isn't given enough material to give a knockout performance, but she is still pretty excellent for what she does have to work with, carrying every height in intensity with strong emotional work, as well as every low with an engaging lead presence. In conclusion, the film boasts the makings of a highly conventional, sometimes manipulative horror film, only with a bit more numbing slowness made worse by a lack of pace, as well as repetition that dances dangerously close to the level of monotony, yet what keeps the film far from tedious is Robert Zemeckis' firm, frequently effective grip on style and tension that break up the slowness, as well as a sharply atmospheric, when not chillingly emotional lead performance by Michelle Pfeiffer to keep you going through the slowness, leaving "What Lies to Beneath" to float along as an improvable, but fairly watchable modern-day Zemeckis filler that I can see doing a decent job of keeping fans settled down before Zemeckis delivered on his other, much bigger film of 2000. Hey, I've been talking about "Cast Away" way too much all throughout this review, so I may as well close with a forced reference to it too. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2011
    What Lies Beneath is a Robert Zemeckis film, and I consider him also to be one of the best directors of the modern age, but this was a disappointment espically because this started out as such a hopeful thriller. The first hour of the film was very good, it provided me good scares and I started to have high hopes but then in the rest of the film the movie gets caught in a very weak story and I was expecting this huge supernatural mystery this wife has been caught in but it turned out to be just a simple murder story. However I will say that the scares are good, I was at the edge of my seat many times and it does prove that Robert Zemeckis is capable of making a good horror movie if he had a better screenplay. This movie was not bad though, in fact it had a great performance from Michelle Pfeiffer who I was able to feel sympathy for and did not get caught upin that cheesy female protagonist role we see in many horror films, and Harrison Ford played a husband whos role becomes bigger as the movie progresses and I came to enjoy his performance more and more because its something I have never seen from him. As a horror film the movie succeeds, but the story was weak and the characters were just decent, only pulled along by their great actors doing some well done performance. I thought this film was just decent, it was nothing new but it still was a memorable horror film and the performances help the film progress, so I would recommend this only to people who enjoy a good horror film.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 10, 2011
    What Lies Beneath has an interesting concept with a good cast. Director Robert Zemeckis crafts a good ghost story here, and manages to keep the thrills and chills fresh as the film progresses. What Lies Beneath is good horror film with a good cast. Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer are good here, and the story is entertaining, chilling and scary. What Lies Beneath was very entertaining, and it kept me on the edge of my seat quite a few times. The cast do a fine job, and the story is quite interesting. I very much enjoyed this film Harrison Ford is pretty good in this, and though he doesn't deliver any memorable performances such was the case of Han Solo, and Indiana Jones, he still is able to pull through with a good enough performance to keep you interested in the overall film. What Lies Beneath has a good story that is very engaging. What Lies Beneath is a flawed film, but it manages good scares and does keep you on the edge of your seat. The cast are very good here, and considering that Harrison Ford is a so-so actor nowadays, he does deliver here. Robert Zemeckis has a good directorial style and he sets a good tone and atmosphere for the film, key elements for a good horror yarn. What lies Beneath is a good, creepy film that has a good cast and an interesting story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
    Alex r Super Reviewer

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