Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Movie Marathon: What Lies Beneath

This is a ghost story that's subtle enough to really be more of a psychological thriller. I saw it at a screening with a friend who, as it turns out, has an almost pathological fear of drowning. She had to leave the theater during the most suspenseful and nerve-wracking scene in the movie and it was harrowing enough  I was thinking of joinging her.
I really liked Michelle Pfeiffer in this movie. She was incredibly sympathetic.
The movie poster (as you can see) features a bath tub. Creepy bathtub/shower scenes are a staple of horror movies. (Let's talk The Shining, or Psycho for that matter.)  There's something extra menacing about something supernatural lurking around when you're totally naked. (I used to rent a house that had one of those makeup mirrors bolted to the tile by the sink. If you caught it at just the right angle, the image it reflected was upside down. Imagine how scary that would be the first night you used the bathroom and caught a glimpse in the moonlight of SOMETHING upside down.) 
I liked all the cast in the movie--from Miranda Otto and James Remar as the neighbors to a blink-and-you-missed-her Amber Valletta.  (I have really liked her in other movies where she had a chance to show some acting chops, like Hitch and Transporter 2.)  Harrison Ford made a good villain.
The scares in this movie are atmospheric, designed to come to a slow build and leave you wondering what's real and what's spooky.
The movie was written by Clark Gregg, who is also an actor. (He played Agent Coulson in Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and The Avengers.) He also wrote and directed the screen adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Choke (starring Sam Rockwell, who was also in Iron Man 2). 
The movie was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who has actually produced a lot of horror movies in his partnership with Joel Silver, including Ghost Ship, Thirteen Ghosts and Gothika. I didn't find any of those movies particularly scary although there's a moment in Ghost Ship with a wire that's flinch-producing.  Still, Bob Z directed one of my favorite movies, Romancing the Stone, so who am I to complain about the scare-factor of his other movies?  (And I also liked the poster for Ghost Ship, which was in the same vein as Cabin Fever, which I thought was...wretched.)
On the other hand, Cabin Fever was made for $1.5 million and earned $30 million worldwide, so clearly mine is a minority opinion.
What Lies Beneath is not like either Ghost Ship or Cabin Fever, which would probably work well as a double feature movie night if you're feeling nostalgic for old school horror that's heavy on gore and not really offering much else.  (The best thing about Cabin Fever is Ryder Strong, who was from Boy Meets World. One of his costars was Jordan Ladd, daughter of Charlie's Angel Cheryl Ladd.)
If you're looking for something you can watch in "mixed company" (that is, with people who aren't necessarily horror movie fans), What Lies Beneath is a good choice. Just make sure no one's afraid of drowning.

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