Lies Beneath" on DVD
Zemeckis Does Hitchcock,
Harrison Ford may get top billing, but Robert Zemeckis' tribute to the
great Alfred Hitchcock is really Michelle Pfeiffer's movie.
She's Claire Spencer, wife of Ford's famous scientist Norman, who's so
busy working on his Nobel prize that he doesn't have a lot of time for
After taking her/their daughter off to college, stay-at-home Claire has
a lot of time on her hands, and her active imagination starts working
overtime. She becomes convinced her new next door neighbor has just killed
his wife and hidden her body and, as if to prove it, she begins seeing
and hearing things that make her think the poor dead woman next door is
coming back to visit her.
Except it isn't that at all. No, it's something else entirely, and the
secrets an increasingly panicked Claire begins to unravel reveal a whole
Pandora's box of past events and what lies are beneath the veneer of their
The longer What Lies Beneath plays out, the more the veneer is pulled
back and the deeper the lies become, and the skill of Zemeckis pulls you
along with Claire for a ripping psychological ride that, had he been around
today, the late great master Hitchcock would undoubtedly have enjoyed
Zemeckis plays the audience like a violin, throwing up red herrings that
make you jump and then feel stupid for having jumped - and just when you
figure you've figured it all out and won't be a-jumping any more along
comes a real scare and you jump all over again.
As with the best movies of this genre, "What Lies Beneath" starts slowly
and builds slowly but steadily to its first climax, a bathroom scene that'll
wrap you up so tightly you won't want to bathe alone again.
Missing from this film is Zemeckis' trademarked long opening shot, but
that's okay. He still uses digital technology to wonderful advantage,
creating shots that would have been well nigh impossible in the days when
Hitchcock was shooting his films. Watch for Pfeiffer to close the outside
door of the house right through the camera, for instance. It's high tech
moviemaking at its best, using the technology to its maximum effect without
beating you over the head with it.
Pfeiffer does an excellent job as a woman with deeper problems than she'd
expected, whose life is unraveling right before her eyes. Ford plays,
well, Ford and we suppose that's fine. The supporting cast, including
Diana Scarwid, Joe Morton, and James Remar does a good job of either increasing
or releasing the tension as the script may warrant.
And just when you think all is lost you're reminded of the supernatural
aspects that played out earlier - but is it too little too late?
The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen (16x9 compatible), as well
as with Dolby Digital and DTS audio, and the quality of the picture and
sound are right up to snuff. Extras include a running commentary from
director Zemeckis himself, a very interesting "first look" behind the
scenes featurette, production notes and cast/crew info and the usual trailer.
Some reviewers have argued that "What Lies Beneath" is a superficial
attempt at doing a Hitchcock, but while the master of suspense might have
done it differently were he around today, Zemeckis has done a fine job
of paying homage to the late director while giving us some good and classy
chills in an era where slashing and gashing is the order of the day.
What Lies Beneath, from Dreamworks Home Video
130 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1)16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1,
Starring Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid
Produced by Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke
Written by Clark Gregg, Directed by Robert Zemeckis
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