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What Lies Beneath

Bad Beginning, Good Ending

By Karen Feigenbaum

Staff Writer

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Written by Clark Gregg

Story by Sarah Kernochan and Steven Spielberg

Starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Joe Morton, Diana Scarwid, and Amber Valletta

Rated PG-13

Despite the fact that the trailers and commercials appear to give the entire movie away, there is a lot more that unpredictably “lies beneath” than is alluded to. That’s not to say that this is a great movie experience, only that it’s better than one would originally think it to be.

The story is painfully slow at the start and spends at least a half-hour on a completely unnecessary tangent. From the commercials, the audience knows the plot. There’s a woman who looks like Michelle Pfeiffer (except with green eyes) haunting the house; this superfluous red herring thrown out by the screenplay writer merely amounts to annoying tedium, time-consumption, and a weak beginning.

The acting and dialogue are occasionally strange; their stilted nature, combined with the slow pacing and length of the movie, make for a somewhat dragging experience. The movie also takes the cheap route, as there are fewer genuine thrills than moments intended to startle with a punctuated blast of frightful music or a clichÉd cat jumping out with a loud meow. And it is ridiculously obvious that Robert Zemeckis studied far too much Hitchcock in order to make this film; more than a few scenes and camera techniques feel as though they’re straight out of Rear Window or Psycho.

Truth be told, however, the movie builds suspense well and appropriately. Whether or not you like it, you will probably be tense through at least a few scenes. And everything comes together unexpectedly well in the last half-hour for a very creative ending.

The film’s conclusion, which possesses some truly thrilling moments and original writing, is what gives What Lies Beneath its strength and makes it surprisingly enjoyable. Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford stretch their talents and chart virgin acting territory, both making bold career moves that pay off.

Catch a matinee, if you’re interested; it’s worth about $5.00. There are certainly worse movies in the theaters this summer. Believe me, I’ve seen them!