What Lies Beneath - Movie Review

What Lies Beneath (2000) DVD Cover Photo
What Lies Beneath (2000) DVD Cover Photo | Source

One of My Favorite Mystery Movies of All Time

After reading kittythedreamer's hub about the movie The Notebook the other day, I got inspired to write about another one of my favorite movies - What Lies Beneath.

Not that this movie has anything to do with that one. I just happened to find an old notebook in which I'd written some notes about the movie for a review I was planning to write years ago and never got around to doing.

So, with the last HubMob topic being about writing a critique, I thought this would be the perfect time to do just that. I first saw this movie in the theater when it came out, and I loved it so much, I bought the DVD as soon as it became available. I have since watched this movie maybe a hundred times, and I never get tired of it. I know how it ends, and I know all the little tricks and turns, but I still love watching it all play out.

This is a hub about all the reasons I love this movie and still watch it often in my spare time - when the girls aren't in the room. I don't think it's quite appropriate for them yet.

The Trailer for the Movie

Before she was a warrior princess in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Miranda Otto played Michelle Pfeiffer's neighbor in What Lies Beneath.
Before she was a warrior princess in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Miranda Otto played Michelle Pfeiffer's neighbor in What Lies Beneath. | Source
The gorgeous actress Amber Valletta (who played the ill-fated Madison Elizabeth Frank) later appeared as Kevin James's love interest in the cute romantic comedy Hitch.
The gorgeous actress Amber Valletta (who played the ill-fated Madison Elizabeth Frank) later appeared as Kevin James's love interest in the cute romantic comedy Hitch. | Source

What Lies Beneath: The Basic Plot

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Claire Spencer, a forty-something mom who is about to become an empty nester because her only daughter, Caitlin, is going away to college at the beginning of the movie.

Claire doesn't have too much time to worry about missing her only daughter, though, because as soon as Caitlin is out of the house, Claire becomes obsessed with her neighbors, the Feurs, who are always intensely fighting and making up in a clearly audible way - until the day Mary "disappears." This is an obvious homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

Shortly after Mary disappears, Claire begins to experience strange things happening around her house. She becomes convinced that the spirit of Mary Feur is haunting her house - until she sees Mrs. Feur at the university one night, where her husband works along with Claire’s husband Norman, played by Harrison Ford.

Then the ghost lets Claire know her initials, and Claire discovers that she is actually the ghost of one Madison Elizabeth Frank, a graduate student who disappeared a while back and who had a connection to Claire’s husband. Claire must find out the truth about what happened to Madison before it’s too late.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Diana Scarwid in the seance scene in the bathroom.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Diana Scarwid in the séance scene in the bathroom. | Source
Michelle Pfeiffer as the possessed Claire Spencer.
Michelle Pfeiffer as the possessed Claire Spencer. | Source

It's a Ghost Story and So Much More!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been fascinated by ghost stories. As a child, I read ghost stories in books I checked out from the library and watched ghost stories on television and in movies. I just couldn’t get enough of the spirit world and the many investigations that have been made of it.

I still love a good ghost story, and this movie provides one of the best I’ve ever seen. In the best Hitchcockian tradition, the thrills in this movie are classy and spine-tingling - not gory and repulsive.

There is a wonderful séance scene where Claire and her best friend Jody, played by the extraordinary Diana Scarwid, hold a séance to try to talk to the ghost of Mary Feur. They get quite a surprise, though, when the bathroom door slams open seemingly on its own. It’s one of the best, most suspenseful scenes in the whole movie.

As Claire learns more and more about the ghost, the ghost becomes a part of her. This proves most advantageous toward the end of the movie when Claire must fight to save her life, and the ghost of Madison Frank helps her. That’s the best kind of ghost story, in my opinion!

Michelle Pfeiffer in the Bathtub at the End of What Lies Beneath

Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford in bed together at the beginning of the movie.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford in bed together at the beginning of the movie. | Source

All Is Not As It Seems

Claire and her husband Norman seem like the perfect couple compared to the Feurs, who argue all the time. But which couple really has the best relationship? Sure, the Feurs have their problems, but they are open and honest with each other about them and appear to work them out during the course of the movie.

Claire and Norman Spencer are not as able to work out their marital difficulties because, as the story progresses, we find out that Norman is not as honest and loving as he at first appears to be. He’s hiding some major secrets behind that handsome, smiling veneer. And it’s up to Claire to find out what those secrets are and what they mean for her and her family.

What is it that so draws Claire to the lake?
What is it that so draws Claire to the lake? | Source

Three-Dimensional Characters

None of the characters in this movie are flat - not one. Even the “minor characters” like Jody and Mary Feur and her husband have their backstories, and we discover them at certain key points in the movie.

What does Jody know that she’s not telling? And why doesn’t she tell it until Claire comes to her and confronts her with the truths that she’s found out during the course of her research and memories?

We learn early on about Claire’s car wreck the previous year, but why did she purposely wreck her car? And how is it connected with Mary Feur and/or the ghost of Madison Frank?

How much does Claire really know about Norman, anyway? Why is he not completely honest with her about his past? And why does he continue to let his father control him so much from beyond the grave?

These questions (and their answers) are all played out in the screenplay. It’s a wonderful study in character development, especially when you consider everything else that’s going on in the plot - and the fact that it’s only a 2-hour-long movie.

Get What Lies Beneath And Its Soundtrack Today!

I Tried Not to Give Too Much Away

Just in case you haven't seen this movie yet, I didn't want to spill too much. The trailer shows a lot, though - maybe a little too much!

Still, I highly recommend this movie, even if you know (or think you know) how it will turn out.

It's wonderfully written, beautifully acted, and the music is phenomenal! I wish Hollywood made more movies like this.

If you love Hitchcock (like I do), you'll love this movie. Buy it today!

A Farewell to HubMob

I just wanted to take this opportunity to say "goodbye" and "thank you" to Princessa and the rest of the HubMob team.

I have really enjoyed being a HubMobber for these past few months. There have been some really great topic ideas, and I've met so many wonderful friends by being involved in this group.

I will truly miss HubMob, but I'm looking for a bright future with the new wave of HubMob: Weekly Topic Inspiration. It should be just as much fun as the original HubMob.

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Comments 9 comments

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America

I remember this film! Thanks for a great review. Rated Up and Awesome.


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA Author

Hi, Patty. Thanks very much! :-)


Katharella profile image

Katharella 5 years ago from Lost in America

I LOVED this movie too, and also have it on DVD! I love spooky movies too, but I think I only watched this one 50 or so times, so you have me beat on this one, but if you haven't (which I'm sure you have since you love spooky movies) seen The Others with Nicole Kidman! If you've not seen it please do, it will not disappoint! :)


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA Author

Hi, Katharella. I actually have seen The Others. It's another favorite. :-)


Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

What a great hub, now I want to watch a movie, it is contagious! Thank you for sharing!


Katharella profile image

Katharella 5 years ago from Lost in America

Both great movies! :) I truly love haunting's!


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA Author

Hi, Chatkath. Thanks! Glad I could give you an idea for a movie to a watch. It's especially good on a gray, storm day! ;-)


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

So glad I found this hub and watched the video. I will check this movie out. Just have to find out how the bathtub scene ends :) Thanks for the review. Rated up!


workingmomwm profile image

workingmomwm 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA Author

Thank you, vocalcoach. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

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