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Ok, I’ll admit it…I’m not a fan of horror movies. I don’t know what it is about me, but I’ve never really been able to stomach too many repeated shocks, and have therefore avoided scary films like the plague! However, I decided that it was time for a change, so I thought I would delve into the latest region 2 release of What Lies Beneath, starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.

What Lies Beneath
Movie
Directed by Forest Gump director Robert Zemeckis, What Lies Beneath follows the relationship between Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), and his beautiful wife Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer). Norman’s life and marriage at first appear perfect, he has a stable job as a respected researcher, he lives in a wonderful lakeside house, and of course he has his stunning wife Claire. However, when Claire begins hearing voices in the house, suspicion turns to fear, and the plot thickens….

Firstly, as with Cast Away, the trailer gives away vital spoilers as to the outcome of the movie, and therefore I would highly recommend not looking at it prior to the film. Why Robert Zemeckis allows this is beyond me, as it really does detract from the overall surprise element from the picture. Secondly, I must admit being highly impressed with the movie.

The film really does borrow heavily from Hitchcock’s well known classics, most notably Rear Window, however, it does enough to take the genre one step further which it achieves with great special effects and a number of plot twists and turns. The acting from the entire cast is superb, and the storyline certainly demands it. If two of Hollywood’s biggest stars weren’t present, I doubt that this picture would really have succeeded as well as it does.

What Lies Beneath relies very much on the building of tension, very much like The Blaire Witch Project….though that didn’t work anywhere near to the same degree. In many of the situations throughout the movie, you know exactly what is going to happen…yes it’s predictable…but that’s what makes it work. Scary films are always going to be better, the less that is shown, because the brain fills in the rest of the details that filmmakers will never be able to compete with. Because of the Hitchcock influence on the movie, even the simplest little things become scary…you won’t want to go near your bathtub for a long, long time!

I have purposely avoided giving away too much of the plot, as I could so easily spoil things that could damage your enjoyment of the film. As this film relies heavily on the surprise element, I wouldn’t want to compromise that. Rest assured though, that if you are fan of scary films, or a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, then this film will not disappoint.

What Lies Beneath
Video
On the whole, the video quality on this 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is very good, however, on many occasions I noticed quite a bit of picture grain. The grain is specifically noticeable during the bathroom scenes which feature a lot of steam. I should point out that it’s by no means a bad transfer, as on the whole everything is top notch…however one does expect a little more for a reasonably recent film.

Sound
What Lies Beneath features a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, we lose the DTS track that the region 1 copy delivered. Despite this loss, the Dolby 5.1 track still stands proud, and delivers a great overall performance, which is really demanded giving the nature of the film. The wide use of surround effects, really help to deliver the tension that the film conveys, and it really does contribute to a number of ‘very’ jumpy moments! Prepare to cack your pants!

Extras
The only major disappointment with the region 2 release of What Lies Beneath is the extras side of things. For such a good film, a 2 disc release would have been nice, or at least a nice sprinkling of extras, however what we get is slightly disappointing.

Firstly, we have a commentary featuring Director Robert Zemeckis, and two of the films producers. Like with most of Zemeckis’ commentaries, the commentary is very informative, though only die-hard fans of the film are likely to want to listen to the entire track. Humour is certainly not abundant in the commentary; perhaps a Harrison Ford commentary may have bought that….but unfortunately that’s not likely to happen.

Next up is a 14minute documentary entitled ‘Constructing The Perfect Thriller’. The title is a little misleading, as this really doesn’t have much to do with constructing thrillers at all. Instead it focuses primarily on Robert Zemeckis’ previous work on a number of his films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Romancing the Stone. This is certainly an interesting documentary, though it doesn’t provide a wealth of information on any film that he has worked on, it merely skims the surface.

What Lies Beneath
Finally you get Cast & Crew Biographies, 15 pages of Production Notes and the obligatory theatrical trailer that I have already warned you about!

Overall, features are certainly a little thin on the ground. An in-depth documentary on the Hitchcock similarities etc would have been a nice addition, however the commentary will have to do.

Overall
This is certainly a film that you should watch. I by no means like scary films, however here I have to make an exception, as it is riveting from start to finish. The pace of the film is timed to perfection, and keeps you on the edge of your seat, behind your seat, under your seat….and every other conceivable seat position! The only disappointment with the DVD release are the extras, however with the film running to around 2hours 10minutes that could be down to space limitations more than anything.


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