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What Lies Beneath

MPAA Rating:



Harrison Ford

Michele Pfeiffer


2000 Dreamworks SKG

Still shot from the movie: What Lies Beneath.

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Overall D+
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Making the Grades

Finally, a movie about a happily married couple -- at least for the first few minutes. But when the wife, Claire Spencer (Michele Pfeiffer) begins to hear noises that turn into ghostly sightings and strange happenings in their old seaside Vermont home, her husband Norman (Harrison Ford) is forced to send her to a psychiatrist for help.

What Lies Beneath - Official Site The doctor advises her to find out who is haunting her and why. After keeping a close eye on her new neighbors, Claire becomes convinced that the man next door has murdered his wife, and believes she has found the identity of her ghost. Unfortunately Norman, who is a noted geneticist, proves that her theory is false.

What Lies Beneath - Official Site Still determined to sort out the mystery, Claire seeks answers in the occult. Claire's best friend Jody (Diana Scarwid), troubled by her strange behavior, decides to lend support by participating in a seance using an Ouija board. She also gives Claire a book about basic witchcraft, in case of an emergency. Eventually Claire discovers she is being haunted by a woman who has been missing for a year, and who is obviously highly motivated to make her presence known.

What Lies Beneath - Official Site Few thrillers of this nature fall into a PG-13 category, and even this one is a tight fit. Although slow at times and relying on antique techniques like scary music and sudden appearances of gruesome faces to shock the audience, this film would still terrify most young children (and even some bigger people) leaving them worried about who can be trusted.

Sexual relationships are also discussed and depicted in a forward manner. The Spencers for instance, enjoy making love while listening to their neighbors do the same. When the spirit finally possesses Claire's body a sexually aggressive scene results with Claire wearing a seductive red dress while demanding her husband's physical attention. (Nudity is limited to a topless Harrison Ford.)

Leading to an extremely violent ending, parents concerned about portrayals of murder, violence, inappropriate sexuality, and the occult will likely want to avoid what lies beneath this thriller.

Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about What Lies Beneath.

Discuss the elements in a typical thriller or horror movie that makes them appealing to audiences. Why are we willing to pay money to have an experience we would never want in reality?

Canadian Movie Ratings

14A Violence, Coarse Language
AB 14A
MB Not Rated Frightening Scenes-----
ON Not Rated Not Recommended for Children
QC 13+

Canadian Home Video Rating: 14A

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