A woman comes to believe her lakeside home is haunted by the spirit of
a young girl somehow connected to her husband, a respected scientist.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Clark Gregg
Starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid,
Miranda Otto, James Remar, Katharine Towne, Amber Valletta
In 1999, when filming for Cast Away had to pause to allow Tom Hanks time to lose a significant amount of weight, Zemeckis used his crew to knock out another project. That project was What Lies Beneath, a decent ghost movie that, admittedly, I had high expectations for. Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Zemeckis, and a ghost. Sign me up. While the film isn't terrible, it's painfully predictable and not really that scary. Plus, the runtime is way too long for a horror movie. The best horror flicks are between an hour twenty and an hour forty-five. If you're gonna push past two hours, your film had better be a masterpiece.
Claire Spencer (Pfeiffer) has an idyllic marriage. Her husband Norman (Ford) is a highly respected scientist on the verge of a breakthrough, and they live in a beautiful Vermont lakeside home. Then, Claire meets her neighbor Mary (Otto), who appears to be a victim of abuse. When she suddenly disappears, Claire starts seeing a ghost that kinda looks like her. I like this red herring, because Mary isn't the ghost. The ghost turns out to be a missing student of Norman's, and the more Claire digs into the story, the more her marriage crumbles and Norman's true nature emerges. It's pretty dark stuff, and both Ford and Pfeiffer deliver engaging, memorable performances.
I really wanted to like What Lies Beneath. I'm a lifelong fan of Zemeckis, and while he puts in great work with this movie, it's just not up to par with what I know he's capable of. It's too long, it's not scary, and you can see the twist coming from a mile away. I think, with repeated viewings, it'll get better.