Thursday Night Movie Club
What Lies Beneath
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Release Date: July 21, 2000

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Harrison Ford
Michelle Pfeiffer
Diana Scarwid
Joe Morton
James Remar
Miranda Otto
Amber Valletta
Katharine Towne
Dr. Norman Spencer
Claire Spencer
Dr. Drayton
Warren Feur
Mary Feur
Madison Elizabeth Frank
Caitlin Spencer
What Lies Beneath movie poster
What Lies Beneath is a pretty good thriller in spite of itself, mainly the ending. The ending of the movie deteriorates into movie cliche and is very predictable to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention.

Harrison Ford plays Dr. Norman Spencer (one of several Hitchcock references), a university researcher that can't escape from the legend of his deceased father of the same name. Michelle Pfeiffer is his wife Claire, who is undergoing stress after suffering an auto accident a year earlier. Claire has been a bit unstable after the accident and slowly becomes more unstable after dropping her daughter off at college.

Claire meets up with their new neighbor Mary Feur, (Miranda Otto) through the fence separating the two yards. Mary is crying uncontrollably and Claire is concerned for her well-being. When Mary seemingly disappears, Claire begins spying on Mary's husband Warren (James Remar: chosen to play this particular role from his prior movie roles as a heavy). One night while looking through her bedroom window, Claire spies Warren placing what appears to be a wrapped corpse in the trunk of his car and drive away. Claire is convinced that Warren has murdered his wife.

Shortly thereafter, the supernatural comes calling at the Spencer residence. Doors open by themselves and pictures slide off the desk and break on the floor. A psychiatrist that Claire visits tells her that the spirit wants something from Claire and that she should ask the ghost what it wants. Excellent special effects, yet simple, come into the movie in the form of reflections in a bathtub and mirror. The computer in the den flashes repeatedly with the initials MEF, leading Claire to believe that the "newly" deceased Mary Fuer has asked Claire to help her show that Warren has murdered her.

Claire confronts Warren at a university function accusing him of murdering his wife only to meet up with the still living Mary Fuer. This still unstable Claire begins a full search to discover who MEF is. She calls a local reporter for information and even uses a Ouija board with the help of her friend Jody (Diana Scarwid).

The movie becomes one suspense scene after another as Claire begins to solve the mystery of MEF. This becomes the bulk of the movie's length with long slow pans/dolly shots to heighten the suspense.

In Rule #102 in the Larry Novotny Book of Movie Cliches, the killer in a suspense movie is always one of the actors that has already been introduced. So looking at which actor has little screen time at the beginning of the movie, the killer becomes rather obvious. Also obvious is where the movie will eventually resolve itself. This is referred to and it is only a matter of time before the inevitable. Which leads to another worn-out cliche, the "I'm not dead yet" gag used so often in movies in which the villain "dies" or is incapacitated several times, but makes a quick recovery in time to add to the suspense-filled ending.

The effects (used sparingly) along with good editing make for a fun, suspenseful movie only to be spoiled by the "same old, same old" ending.