What Lies Beneath

Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

Hex cast: 2000

DianaScarwid and MichellePfeiffer in 'What Lies Beneath'

“I think I’ve contacted the ghost of Joan Crawford. She just keeps talking about wire hangers.”

The charm: Oh, sweet movie title, what a charming little double entendre are you. Robert Zemeckis nakedly apes Alfred Hitchcock in this mystery/ghost story… and the result is one of the best films of the former director’s career. Most of the credit must go to Hitchcock himself for establishing the style of slow-building tension that rightly earned him the title Master of Suspense. However, Zemeckis must be given his due for studying the master’s style in such detail and putting into practice so adroitly. Even Alan Silvestri’s score is a loving homage to frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann. Michelle Pfeiffer is suitably blonde as the upper class suburban housewife, newly suffering empty nest syndrome, who suddenly spies suspicious activity from her neighbors. Diana Scarwid steps into the Vera Miles role as Pfeiffer’s confident and free-spirited friend, supporting her in every absurd endeavor, including a bathroom séance. Harrison Ford plays against type as the distrustful husband, leading to a conclusion that takes Hitchcock and sprinkles in a just a dash of John Carpenter.

Focal point: Pfieffer’s neighborly spying is straight out of Rear Window, producing some wonderful tension that leads to jarring payoffs.

Entrancing trivia: Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford were director Robert Zemeckis’s first and only choices for the lead roles of Claire and Norman Spencer.

Speak the words: “The first time I met you, all I wanted was to spend the rest of my life with you. Not gonna happen now.”

Companion spell: Rear Window (1954). Michelle Pfeiffer’s spy antics and James Remar’s creepy neighbor mischief borrow heavily from Hitchcock’s classic voyeur thriller.

Cursed by: Its strongest feature is also its weakest plot point. The subplot with the suspicious neighbor is little more than a red herring.