What Lies Beneath (2000) Film Review

Norman Spencer, a university research scientist, is growing more and more concerned about his wife, Claire, a retired concert cellist who a year ago was involved in a serious auto accident. Now, Claire reports hearing voices and witnessing eerie occurrences in and around their lakeside Vermont home, including seeing the face of a young woman reflected in water. An increasingly frightened Claire thinks the phenomena have something to do with the couple living next door, especially since the wife has disappeared without apparent explanation. At her husband’s urging, Claire starts to see a therapist; she tells him she thinks the house is being haunted by a ghost. Enlisting the help of her best friend, Jody, and a Ouija board, Claire seeks to find out the truth of What Lies Beneath. – From IMDB

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There is a good mystery/thriller buried under everything here. The general idea of the film is good, and some scenes do send a chill up your spine, but for the most part I think the film is a little too long and had too much dead time where nothing is really happening.

Heavily inspired by Hitchcock, this film tries to get by on pure suspense alone. It cranks up the suspenseful music, makes you doubt everyone and take everything you hear with a grain of salt, and leads you down about fifty false leads. And while for about an hour that works at keeping me entertained, after that, it started to get a bit tedious. A few dead ends in films like this are always a good idea. you don’t want your audience to figure out the ending too soon. But this throws too many options at you. It even gives us an entirely incorrect plot for the first hour or so which, one proven false, is literally completely forgotten and never mentioned again.

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My favourite part, and I mean this no sarcasm whatsoever, is the final act. Once the killer is revealed and all the secrets spilled, which as a viewer I had worked out about half an hour ago, the big confrontation begins and this is where the suspense element is at it’s best. There are so many little hints earlier in the film that lead into this final act as well. Some of them, like discussing the phone signal on the bridge, are so heavy handed that you know they are bound to be relevant later, but that doesn’t stop it from being really clever when it all comes together.

Its not the scary, suspenseful horror film that it wants to be, none of the jump scares did it for me, and very little else in the film is scary either, but if you view is as a mystery/suspense film, it’s not bad at all. It is an older one, so you probably know all the twists by now, but there are worse ones out there is you are looking to scratch that mystery itch.

Final Rating: 2.5 Stars


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