What Lies Beneath (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)
[originally posted 7Mar2001]
I’ve commented about the somewhat humorous mechanism of artists “presenting” other artists’ work in the past, usually noting that the artist doing the presenting seems to have no taste whatsoever. Zemeckis flips the rule on its head. Despite hearing uniformly awful things about this film, Zemeckis’ last blip on my radar was “Robert Zemeckis Presents The Frighteners,” Peter Jackson’s insanely underrated comedy, and so I figured I’d give him another chance, Forrest Gump notwithstanding. Unfortunately, rubbing shoulders with Peter Jackson hasn’t done a blessed thing for Zemeckis, a wonderful director gone horribly downhill.
This is the latest piece of evidence that Zemeckis seems to have gone completely insane. It starts slowly, all well and good for a horror film, but the pace never picks up. Michelle Pfeiffer tries to convey the mixed emotions in a woman who’s not sure whether she’s actually living in a haunted house, or whether (as everyone around her seems to believe) she’s just relapsing into suicidal depression. Problem is that no one else in the movie is believable enough to lend any credence to her otherwise pretty good performance. Even the usually-wonderful Diana Scarwid doesn’t manage to make a dent here as Pfeiffer’s wacko-spiritualist pal.
Fear not, folks. For his next film, Macabre, Zemeckis teams up with Joel Silver, with whom he hasn’t worked since his last truly great film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There is hope. * ½