Much as it did to the freshman efforts of Brian De Palma two decades earlier, the spirit of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock seems to be guiding the path of this thriller from Robert Zemeckis that's overlong and too derivative but which does contain some effective chills. Genuine shocks and effective plot twists are to be found in the second half of What Lies Beneath, but the film suffers greatly from its elaborate red herring of a first act. While clever and reminiscent of Hitchcock's awe-inspiring, brief use of Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960), the film's intentionally misleading side road stretches on interminably, testing viewer patience once the equally complicated "real" ghost story gets underway. There is much to like in What Lies Beneath, however, including an excellent performance from the luminous Michelle Pfeiffer and a risk-taking, against-type role filled ably by Harrison Ford that's unmistakably reminiscent of some similar rolls of the dice performed during the career of another all-American icon, James Stewart. If What Lies Beneath feels rushed at times (a particular establishing shot of the film's main location is repeated endlessly from exactly the same angle and position), perhaps it's because Zemeckis filmed it while on hiatus from another production, Cast Away.
by Karl Williams review