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What Lies Beneath (2000): Thin Ice, Do Not Skate

What Lies Beneath (Robert Zemeckis, 2000)

[originally posted 7Mar2001]

A hand rests on the side of a bathtub in the film's poster.

The movie is about as deep as its poster furniture.
photo credit: Wikipedia

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.

Harrison Ford emotes to Michelle Pfeiffer in a still from the film.

“Damn it, I NEVER know whether to go with stripes or polka dots with this suit!”
photo credit:

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.

Michelle Pfeiffer gazes out a window in a still from the film.

“Somewhere out there, someone is making a grilled cheese sandwich with pickles.”
photo credit:

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



About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

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