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"WHAT LIES BENEATH"
(2000) (Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Heavy Extreme Extreme None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Extreme Extreme None Heavy
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy None Heavy Moderate Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Horror/Suspense/Thriller: As increasingly bizarre events occur around her, a housewife tries to figure out whether she's going crazy or if her house is really haunted.
PLOT:
Norman (HARRISON FORD) and Claire Spencer (MICHELLE PFEIFFER) are a seemingly happily married couple who've just sent their only daughter, Caitlin (KATHARINE TOWNE), off to college. Living in the picturesque New England lake home once owned by his later father, Norman is running an important and time consuming research project at the local university while Claire remembers her past as a cellist and an automobile accident from nearly one year earlier that's left her somewhat skittish and highly emotional.

That comes into play when she begins to think that her new next-door neighbors, Warren (JAMES REMAR) and Mary Feur (MIRANDA OTTO) are having major marital problems and then begins to suspect that the husband may have killed the wife after she suddenly disappears. When Norman questions those conclusions and she begins experiencing weird and seemingly supernatural phenomena in their home, Claire worries that she may be going crazy.

A visit to psychiatrist Dr. Drayton (JOE MORTON) doesn't help, while Claire's best friend, Jody (DIANA SCARWID), thinks she's blowing everything out of proportion, but does participate in a Ouija board experiment and leaves her a book on witchcraft and spells just in case. As the creepy phenomena continue to occur, Claire begins to believe that their house is haunted, possibly by a young woman, Madison Elizabeth Frank (AMBER VALLETTA), who's been missing for around one year.

Despite sensing that no one believes her, Claire begins digging deeper for clues and information about the apparition's identity and possible cause of her demise, a search that will soon unearth far more than what she bargained for.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of horror films or the work of Ford, Pfeiffer or director Zemeckis ("Back to the Future," "Contact"), they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For terror/violence, sensuality and brief language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • HARRISON FORD plays a busy research scientist who doesn't believe his wife's conclusions about their neighbors or their own seemingly haunted house. He eventually becomes fed up with her increasingly erratic and seemingly irrational behavior, although he still tries to support her. Eventually, we learn that he had an affair in the past and did much more than that.
  • MICHELLE PFEIFFER plays his wife who thinks she's going crazy, but perseveres in her search for the truth. Along the way, she briefly uses some strong profanity.
  • DIANA SCARWID plays Claire's wisecracking best friend who tries to help her through her crisis.
  • MIRANDA OTTO plays the couple's new next-door neighbor who may be the victim of spousal abuse.
  • JAMES REMAR plays her husband who may or may not be abusing her and/or be her murderer.
  • JOE MORTON plays a psychiatrist who tries to help Claire.
  • AMBER VALLETTA plays a student who had an affair with an older professor.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this PG-13 rated horror & suspense/thriller. As is the case with most "haunted house" films, this one features plenty of creepy moments, jump scenes, scary music and supernatural occurrences that may individually and/or collectively be unsettling, suspenseful and/or frightening to many viewers. In addition and beyond the supernatural material, the film also includes more "traditional" suspense moments of one person trying to elude another who's intent on killing them.

    Profanity consists of at least 1 use of the "f" word, while a handful of other profanities and colorful phrases also occur. We hear the pleasured and rhythmic sounds of a woman having sex, see a married couple beginning to fool around, and then see a woman seducing and then mounting a man (although no actual sex occurs in that instance).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes (including those involving murder, attempted murder and an affair), while several instances of related violence occur (with some bloody results - while a partially decomposed corpse is also seen). The results of all of that create some tense family moments, while various characters drink (mostly in social settings). Should the preceding not answer your questions about the film's appropriateness for anyone in your home, we suggest that you take a closer look at our more detailed content listings for more specific examples of what occurs in the film.

    For those concerned with the repetitive flashing of bright lights on the screen, a few brief moments of that occur in a house during a thunderstorm at night.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Caitlin's new roommate jokes with Norman and Claire that she won't go to single bar without Caitlin.
  • Norman and Claire have wine.
  • Claire leaves a bottle of wine in a welcome basket for Warren and Mary.
  • Norman and Claire have wine with another couple.
  • Claire and Jody have wine while trying to use a Ouija board.
  • People have wine and drinks at a reception (including Claire who has a refill of wine).
  • Norman has a drink.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Claire finds one of Mary's shoes that appears to have a drop of blood on it.
  • Claire has a long, but skinny and bloody scrape on her arm.
  • A man's hands are bloody and we then see lots of blood on the floor and walls of a bathroom. We later see a small pool of blood on the floor next to a person's head/face that's also very bloody.
  • We see several shots of a dead and partially decomposed body.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Claire begins spying on Warren with binoculars after she thinks he's killed his wife and eventually publicly accuses him of doing just that (without knowing all of the facts).
  • For those who object to the occult and Ouija boards, Claire and Jody use one in trying to summon the spirit. Jody also leaves Claire a book about witchcraft and spells, and Claire partially uses it in trying to deal with her ghost.
  • Norman reacts to Claire's haunted house claims by thinking that she's trying to sabotage his work (for being jealous of him being gone/busy all of the time).
  • We see that Claire stole a locket of a young missing woman's hair from her mother's home.
  • We learn that a teacher had an affair with one of their students.
  • Norman lies to Claire about whether he's been to a certain small town or not.
  • We learn that a person killed another person.
  • We see a person trying to kill another person several times.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Much of the film is shot in a slow and deliberate fashion that gives a great deal of it a horror film feel where one expects something bad or scary to be around the corner, behind a person or object, or just out of the camera's shot.
  • Other scenes, including those listed under "Jump Scenes" seem scarier and more suspenseful due to the inclusion of such related music.
  • Claire suddenly sits up in a bathtub, petrified after we see a quick image of a dead girl in her place.
  • During a thunderstorm at night, Claire believes that she's seeing the next-door neighbor carrying his wife's wrapped body out to his car and putting it in his trunk.
  • During another long and deliberate scene, Claire suddenly finds the front door open (and we later see more scenes where it's open again or opens by itself just as she approaches it).
  • After seeing that Cooper, the family dog, is scared of something out on their dock, Claire looks down into the water and seems to see what looks like a ghostly face just under the surface.
  • Claire slowly walks through the quiet house at night when she then jumps as the stereo suddenly turns on and blasts out some music.
  • Claire hears a framed photo fall to the floor (when she knows no one else is in the house).
  • Thinking that Warren has killed Mary, Claire spies on him with binoculars and then sees him leave his house and head her way. She then panics as she loses sight of him and then sees the family dog anxiously barking at someone she can't see.
  • At night, Claire sees steam coming out from under the bathroom door. She goes in and finds the bathtub full, and when she goes to pull the drain plug, she suddenly sees a ghostly reflection next to her in the water.
  • Claire and Jody using a Ouija board in the candlelit bathroom at night (trying to summon the spirit). The candle suddenly goes out, the planchette suddenly moves on its own, and the bathroom door slowly opens (with the requisite, slow creaking sound). Another door then suddenly bursts open.
  • Just after leaving the bathroom, Claire suddenly sees more steam coming from there and then finds the previously empty bathtub full of water. She then sees a partial and fleeting image behind her in a steamed over mirror, yells, "What do you want?" and then sees the words "You know" written in the steam on the mirror. Moments later and in another room, she sees her computer going crazy (repeatedly typing initials).
  • While seducing Norman, Claire stops as a door opens and she sees a figure in the reflection of a mirror.
  • We see a person in a bathtub along with a hairdryer and assume that they're dead (although we later learn the truth about that scene).
  • Norman spots Claire falling/jumping into a lake and then dives in to save her.
  • A man grabs a woman, and they struggle, knocking over items while doing so. She manages to close a door on his hand to escape, but only momentarily. Affected by a temporarily paralyzing drug, she tries to crawl away but can't.
  • That temporarily paralyzed person is then put into a bathtub where the water slowly begins to fill up around them (in a several minute sequence where the idea is that they'll drown, and those with an aversion to such matters will find the scene very unsettling and suspenseful).
  • The entire ending sequence, involving the woman trying to get out of the tub, avoiding the man (in several scenarios) and then dealing with the ghost, a dead and partially decomposed body (that comes alive) and another near drowning sequence will probably be suspenseful and scary to some viewers.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Screw around" (nonsexual), "Pissed," "D*cking around" and "Shut up."
  • Claire begins spying on Warren with binoculars (after she thinks he's killed his wife).
  • Kids may want to try using a Ouija board if they've never done so.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • During a quiet and deliberately shot scene, Claire suddenly receives a jolt from an electrical outlet (but isn't hurt).
  • A person's face suddenly appears at a hole in a fence.
  • A telephone suddenly rings during a quiet but suspenseful scene.
  • A stereo suddenly turns on at night during another quiet scene.
  • A person suddenly appears in the view from a pair of binoculars.
  • A person suddenly shows up behind another person.
  • Claire suddenly sees a ghostly image next to her in the reflection in some bath water.
  • A door suddenly bursts open.
  • Claire suddenly sees a fleeting image behind her in a steamed over mirror.
  • A person suddenly shows up behind another person.
  • A person suddenly looks like a dead and partially decomposed body.
  • A hand suddenly appears on the edge of a tub.
  • A person is suddenly startled when they step on something (and soundtrack music suddenly plays in the otherwise quiet scene).
  • A person's hand suddenly moves.
  • A person suddenly shatters a vehicle's window.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of ominous, suspenseful and scary music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 1 "f" word, 5 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("d*cking"), 3 hells, 1 ass, 1 damn, 1 S.O.B., 4 uses each of "Jesus," "Oh God," and "Oh my God," 3 of "God" and 1 use each of "Oh Christ" and "Oh Jesus Christ" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see Claire in her bathtub from the chest up (and seen from the floor level side of the tub), but don't see any explicit nudity.
  • Norman nuzzles Claire's neck (both are clothed), which she likes, but she tells him that their college-aged daughter is awake. Norman replies that they'll be quiet, but nothing else happens.
  • Claire, wearing a low-cut and sheer nightgown (that shows a bit of cleavage), gets into bed and tries to seduce Norman who's shirtless and working in bed. He then asks if she wants to "fool around," she replies, "Yup," and they begin passionately making out. They stop, however, when they hear the rhythmic moans of their next-door neighbor (obviously having sex) through their open bedroom window. Claire wonders what Warren's doing to Mary and then tells Norman to leave the window open (so that they can listen) when he starts to close it. Norman then jokingly asks, "Do you think we can take them?" (in degree of sexual sounds) and she replies that they can give it a try. He then climbs on top of her, kisses down her neck and chest and then moves down her body (out of the camera shot) but then briefly reappears with her thigh up alongside him (possibly indicating oral sex as he then disappears out of the shot again).
  • The next night Norman jokes that the neighbors will probably keep them up all night "with their sexual Olympics."
  • Claire shows a bit of cleavage as she bends over (toward the camera).
  • Claire suddenly acts seductively toward Norman and he then inquisitively follows her into another room. There he finds her sitting on a step with her legs suggestively spread (and her dress hanging down between them). She then gets up, licks his chin and bites his lip (causing him to reply that she's being too rough and she replies, "Since when?"). She then pushes him down backwards onto a desk and climbs on top of him, straddling his lap. She then tears open his shirt and takes off his belt, and seductively whispers something into his ear. They then passionately kiss, but then stop when she's distracted by something else.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Claire sees what appear to be the new and married next-door neighbors fighting (verbally) outside and then briefly talks with the apparently quite upset wife (although we later learn that all of that was misinterpreted).
  • Claire suffers from empty nest syndrome after they take their daughter off to college.
  • Jody makes a joke about alimony and losing a husband but gaining a car (referring to herself and her new car).
  • We learn that Norman's father is dead (several comments are made about that) and that Claire's first husband is dead.
  • Claire's insistence that their house is haunted begins to put a strain on her and Norman's marriage.
  • We learn that a husband had an affair a year earlier and that puts a strain on a marriage.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Hauntings, whether they really occur, and strange sounds/occurrences in one's own house.
  • Claire's assumptions for the worse about Warren and Mary (arrived at with incomplete information).
  • Affairs.
  • Norman's actions, behavior and attitude concerning his wife.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Claire pushes Warren on the back before publicly accusing him of murdering his wife.
  • Startled by a sudden change in Claire's appearance, Norman throws her off him and she lands on the floor.
  • We learn that a person killed another person (not seen - and it occurs before the story begins).
  • A man grabs a woman, and they struggle, knocking over items while doing so. She manages to close a door on his hand to escape, but only momentarily.
  • A man attempts to drown a woman (slowly in a bathtub by letting the water fill up around her).
  • A person slips and strikes their head quite hard on a sink, drawing lots of blood.
  • A person suddenly shatters a vehicle's window and then struggles with the driver (with the assailant trying to choke the driver who repeatedly elbows the assailant).
  • A person drowns.



  • Reviewed July 17, 2000 / Posted July 21, 2000

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