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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - by director Robert Zemeckis
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette - HBO Special - Constructing the Perfect Thriller
  • Production notes

What Lies Beneath

Dreamworks/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 124 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

In this age of cheap teen thrillers and the horror/comedy, it's rare to see something trying to take itself seriously and provide some real chills. Casting an adult pair in favor of the more popular teenage heart-throbs made this movie more attractive to the wider audience and it delivers in spades.

The Spencers, Norman (Harrison Ford) and Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), are just dropping off their daughter for a life in college. Retruning home, Claire finds that she's feeling even more lonely as Norman spends most of his time in his lab at the University doing research. With all this free time, Claire starts to notice things that she normally wouldn't like the ever entertaining neighbours and the multitude of slightly unexplainable events in her home.

When she tells her husband of the events and he dismisses them, she takes it upon herself to find out who this spirit is and what it wants. From here, things start to pick up as we get to learn more and more about what has happened in that house leading up to an ending that this reviewer wasn't expecting. I guess that's the best way to approach these movies, go in with no expectations and be much more satisfied.

Whilst the movie is very enjoyable, it was hard not to notice the Hitchcock homeages here that are scattered throughout the entire movie. The audio commentary reveals that director Zemeckis intended to do so and they are there to keep your interest piqued and the frights consistently executed to that similar tone. Throughout the whole movie you have this uneasy feeling of where the next thrill is coming from which certainly raises the stakes and made the movie alot more enjoyable.

  Video
Contract

The video quality here is exceptional and probably one of the better, if not best, transfers this reviewer has seen from 20th Century Fox. The anamorphic transfer really brings the film to life with excellent detail in all areas of the image, both foregrounds and backgrounds.

Certain scenes call for certain look and feel as the shots within the bathroom have a cool blue feel to get those chills going, exterior day shots are warm and inviting and evening shots have a tweaked contrast that bring out a ghostly effect in Michelles tormented character. Blacks are rendered perfectly with shadow detail being spot on.

The only quibble I have about the image is there is some noticeable edge-enhancement at times but only if you look closely. The only reason this reviewer noticed it was that it was mentioned in other region 1 reviews and I went out intentionally looking for them. To that I say disregard this paragraph as it's a great looking picture.

  Audio
Contract

Audio wise we're given an excellent reproduction of a somewhat sedate soundtrack. The fron soundstage is the main focus for this movie with little use of the surrounds, even when you'd normally assume they'd come to life. Most of the full channel use is taken care of by the musical score to emphasise the shock factor and it works as it surprises you every time.

Dialogue is fine throughout and bass response is pretty deep, even through the opening 20th Century Fox fanfare to select 'moments' throughout the movie. Not demo material but perfectly adequate for this movie.

  Extras
Contract

With the original rental release having nothing in the way of extras, the wait for the sell-through version would have built some anticipation within fans of the film for something worthy of the wait. There are extras here worthy of note but nothing in the ballpark of the special editions we are used to, hence the basic titling.

What we do receive begins with an audio commentary featuring the 3 producers of the movie, Steve Starkey, Jack Rapke and producer/director Robert Zemeckis. What could have been an exceptional commentary bases itself pretty much in a scene by scene description of what we're seeing onscreen. We don't need to be told what we already know. On the flipside, there are moments where the trio delve into the Hitchcock homeages that Zemeckis was trying to achieve and how the tone of the film is set from scene to scene. One major factor here is the camera pans that are typical Hitchcock and where the aid of digital trickery has enabled them to become more elaborate in this digital age.

The next extra is the only other major extra available on this DVD. A 14 minute featurette titled "Constructing the Perfect Thriller" takes us on a journey of interviews with various cast and crew talking about director Robert Zemeckis and his knack for letting his creative juices flow. Now while the title seems to focus on how to create a thriller, the content doesn't do so until the last few minutes so in effect we have a glorified "Tell us about Bob Zemeckis" interview session with a look back at past glories such as Back to the Future, Forest Gump and Contact to name a few with the respective stars lending their opinions.

To round off the collection are 15 pages of production notes, an anamorphically enhanced 2 channel stereo theatrical trailer, an extensive cast and crew biographies coupled together with some plainly static menus sewn together with overlong animated cuts.

A disappointing collection of extras for what is a great movie.

  Overall  
Contract

As with all good horror/thriller movies, the simpler the better and this one seems to fit that bill pretty well. The frights come thick and fast, adding to the appeal of the movie and certainly making you wary of every room in your house that you walk past as you try to get to your bedroom for some sleep. If a film can do that to you then I guess it's succeeded.


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      And I quote...
    "A disappointing collection of extras for what is a great movie."
    - Steve Koukoulas
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Playstation 2
    • TV:
          Hitachi CMT2979 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS777 THX Select
    • Speakers:
          VAF Signature I-91
    • Centre Speaker:
          VAF Signature I-91
    • Surrounds:
          VAF Signature I-91
    • Subwoofer:
          VAF LFE-07
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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