I cannot write any review of What Lies Beneath without it also turning into an essay on old people. And so fellow reader I give you… “Nate’s Essay on the Movie Watching Habits of the Elderly or: What Lies Beneath the Review.” [Editor’s note: his review was written originally by a testy and somewhat snide 18-year-old me, so please excuse the ageism attack on elderly movie habits, not that there isn’t still truth to this.]
The tale is one of a happily married couple who are just going through the empty-nest syndrome when their only daughter leaves home for college. Michelle Pfeiffer is a strung out house wife trying to fill up her days and enjoy time with her Harrison Ford-like husband. But all is not well in the house. Michelle starts experiencing visions of ghosts in bath water (bathtubs play a huge role in this flick, bigger than red in Sixth Sense likely) as well as coincidental things that you know aren’t at all coincidental. How many times does the door have to open for you by itself before you put two and two together? Anyway Michelle comes undone and tries telling her husband of her spirit stalkings but he believes she’s crazy. In the end we all know it’s the dead spirit of Ford’s mistress mainly because of the trailer and commercials giving us every twist a la Double Jeopardy. I will say this, the last twenty minutes are ludicrous and laughably bad.
Beneath could be argued as an homage to Hitchcock, but that would be slandering Hitchcock. Hitch could hold an audience, show them new things, and play a crowd like a piano. All What Lies Beneath did was put me to sleep.
What Lies Beneath is supposed to be an “adult” scary picture but does no more but define its intentions with the overused but reliable and disappointing jump scare. A jump scare never truly scares but only startles – usually brought on by a loud BANG! in the orchestral score. But no one admires jump scares. No child grows up wishing he can make the ultimate jump scare movie because it’s basically a cheap reaction or reflex. Build an entire concept of “scariness” on this principle and it’s even cheaper. Old people fall for every one of them too and then sit back loudly talking to their friends about how they were had.
Old people are far more talkative through movies then children, teenagers, and people who frequent seizures combined! This isn’t one single occurrence as well, the same thing happened when I saw The Patriot and subsequently Space Cowboys. Old people talk constantly throughout a movie carrying on conversations loudly as if they weren’t watching a film but rather a child playing in the distance. It’s even more difficult to pay attention to a dull film when you keep hearing everyone’s stories around you, though one man’s story of holiday cooking had me at “hello.”
In short stay away from What Lies Beneath or any movie that skews to a demographic that watches reruns of Murder She Wrote. Old people may enjoy their movies… just don’t see any with them if you have the choice.
Nate’s Grade: C-