What Lies Beneath

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By Mark Ramsey | 2000/07/24

What Lies Beneath Michelle Pfeiffer? Anything she wants, I’m sure. Usually, it’s TV writing machine David E. Kelley. Fortunately, Kelley doesn’t consider sex with Michelle to be an interruption to his writing routine thanks to the Caps Lock on her right breast. “Our lovemaking is definitely case-sensitive,” says Michelle.

Believe me when I say Michelle has never seen the Scream movies, because she does all the stupid things the woman in danger is not supposed to do. No wonder the Wayans brothers were in back of me taking notes.

This movie is one part slasher flick, one part ghost story, and one part bathroom remodeling commercial. It’s the bone-chilling and bold look of Kohler, baby! I don’t know about you, but if I see ghosts reflecting in the tub water I’m switching to a cleanser with bleach!

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Just what would a so-called “thriller” be without gobs of Hitchcock homage?

Michelle peers across the way as the suspicious neighbor drags what looks like a body bag into his car trunk. Maybe she should send Grace Kelly flitting over to the scene in her Dior gown to investigate! Golly, darling, there’s suspense afoot!

And then there’s the scene where a startled Michelle crawls out of the bathtub tearing down the shower curtain a la Marion Crane. “Oh Mother!,” no. Oh brother, yes.

I was bracing for a guest appearance of The Birds alum Suzanne Pleshette, whose voice is now so low that when she gives her body to science, science plans to attach digital inputs and resell it as a subwoofer.

Evidently, Director Robert Zemeckis is being possessed by the demon spirit of Director Brian DePalma. Either Bob is winking at us or he’s got a nasty derivative tick. Who can tell for sure? All I know is this plot thins faster than Bob’s hair, and that hair’s looking pretty Casper itself.

Who can’t love the scene where Michelle provocatively spreads her legs over a lit candle. I thought to myself, “if she can blow the candle out that way then Hollywood has just discovered a renewable energy goldmine!”

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Pity the all-too-obvious foreshadowing in this movie, like the scene where they inject rats with paralyzing anesthesia to simulate death – another Hitchcock nod, if I’m not mistaken. You don’t suppose we’ll see this again, do you?

Warning: Whenever a door opens, you should assume some actor is quickly scrambling into position behind it so that loud, abrupt music will mark his or her surprise and usually harmless appearance when that door closes.

Warning: Whenever you spin around in a tight frame, there will be somebody standing there to surprise you – somebody who either crept quietly beside you or perhaps was lowered from the soundstage rafters on wires like Peter Pan. Either way, cue the loud, abrupt music.

Why is everyone in this movie sneaking around? These phony, cheap “surprises” happen so many times you wonder why Vermonters can’t cut out the caffeine and learn to knock.

Warning: Whenever anyone peeks into any hole assume that someone will suddenly peek back in part to see what all the loud, abrupt music is about.

Suspicious, Michelle takes a trip to the quaint Vermont town of Adamant, where the famous Revolutionary War battle of Goody Two Shoes was fought. There, American General Flock of Seagulls faced British General Dexy’s Midnight Runners. Skinny ties and male eyeliner emerged victorious.

Bless my soul for the wonderful Diana Scarwid in a supporting role that shines. Man, is she good.

This movie one-ups The Sixth Sense because instead of “dead people” we have a dead supermodel! Tragic it is when the jet set loses one of their own. And with so many swimsuit editions and years of rehab ahead of her.

Classically trained thespian Amber Valletta’s job is to look vacant and eerie – fortunately, that’s the unique selling proposition of a model and no problem for the hostess of this Haunted House of Style. Luckily, most of Amber’s lines are of the tanning variety and Michelle’s pedicure gets more screen time.

What Lies Beneath is the creepiest movie Michelle has done since Grease 2. Although 90 percent of this movie is entirely predictable to anyone who “knows the rules” (and who doesn’t?), the other 10 percent actually contains its share of chills…

…if you can tolerate the preposterous last act enough to appreciate them.

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“This is where we would kiss if I was attracted to girls”