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What Lies Beneath

Those darn ghosts, never know when to leave well enough alone.

The new boo-fest What Lies Beneath is the story of the ghost of a dead girl (always the ghost of a dead girl, what about the ghost of a live girl?) who is running around Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford's house, scaring the bejeezus out of everybody.

She has something important to tell them, but does she write them a letter? Send an email? Get some of her ghost buddies to skywrite a message above their house? No, she haunts them. As if anyone is gonna be able to accurately comprehend an important message when a dead body reaches out for them from the bathtub.

This film is completely thrilleriffic, with an elaborate red herring that would have been a lot more effective if I hadn't seen the trailer. Even so, I spent most of the movie crunched down in my seat, watching through my fingers. Not that I was scared or anything, I just think that most movies look better when watched through my fingers. Muppets From Space was another great through-the-fingers movie.

In What Lies Beneath, we spend most of the time with Michelle Pfeiffer, bored and lonely housewife. She has the same problems we all have, child has left for college, rose garden needs tending, ghosts keep filling up the bathtub, the usual stuff. Eventually, the ghost-like problems take up most of her attention, and the movie gets a plot. Suddenly she has questions to answer. Who is this dead girl? What does she want from Michelle? Will Ms. Pfeiffer ever be able to bathe in peace?

It's a nice story where every plot twist leads to another plot twist which leads to another plot twist which eventually leads to stuff you learned in the trailer. Forget the trailer, you learned it in the tag line. "He was the perfect husband until his one mistake followed him home." Sounds scary, right? Right. But that one brilliant marketing tool makes the first third of the movie pointless. They should have cut the beginning, started with that line on a black screen, and then picked up the story from there.

It's like seeing a poster for the original Star Wars which reads "He was going to save the universe, even though Darth Vader would turn out to be his Dad."

Right about now you're asking yourself, but is it scary? Yes. What Lies Beneath is scary. It's a scary house. Michelle Pfeiffer takes scary baths. There are scary doors and scary staircases. Lots of scary mist rolls around on the floor. And, of course, you've got your scary game of computer Solitaire. All told, there are scares-o-plenty. And it's a good scare. A real 'we're going to scare you with stuff that is scary' kind of scare. As opposed to a 'we aren't very scary but we're going to show you a lot of gore' type of scare. It has been said that the scariest thing in a movie is a shot of the camera approaching a closed door, and in that mindset, What Lies Beneath is very scary indeed. I mean scary. Scary, scary, scary.

Personally, I'm waiting for the supernatural thriller about polite ghosts.

"Pardon me, I hate to be a bother, but you've built your house atop our ancient Indian burial ground. We're rather put-out by that."

I'm shaking already.

In the end, I'm giving What Lies Beneath 3 4/5 Babylons. Go see it. Or don't. But know that if you don't, it will be your one mistake, and it will follow you home and haunt you until the end of your days.

Editor's Note:

I just think everyone should know that when faced with frightening scenes such as a hand coming out of nowhere or a dead girl showing up in a mirror, the Self-Made Critic tends to squeal like a little girl.

What Lies Beneath
Rated: R
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer and the Ghost of Thrillers Past.

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