What Lies Beneath (2000)

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Released 3-Oct-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Featurette-Constructing The Perfect Thriller
Theatrical Trailer
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 124:32
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (54:18) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Zemeckis

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Harrison Ford
Michelle Pfeiffer
Diana Scarwid
Amber Valletta
James Remar
Joe Morton
Miranda Otto
Katharine Towne
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Alan Silvestri

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    What Lies Beneath is the story of Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford), a respected and well-known professor at the local university. His wife, Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), is a classical musician, retired from her career to raise their daughter Caitlin (Katharine Towne). Caitlin has just left home for college, Norman is kept busy with his research, and this leaves Claire with lots of time on her hands. At first she tries to get to know the new neighbours (Miranda Otto and James Remar) and she begins to suspect that something strange is happening next door. Then she hears faint voices in her own house, and her front door keeps mysteriously opening by itself. While these occurrences are disconcerting it is when she starts seeing reflections of a woman in the water of the lake by her home, and then in the bath water, that she starts to become seriously concerned. When she narrates these events to her husband he arranges for her to consult a psychiatrist (Joe Morton). However, Claire, assisted by her friend Jody (Diana Scarwid), further explores these strange events and discovers that the face whose reflection she keeps seeing belongs to a college student, (Amber Valletta) who has gone missing.

    It is difficult to say more without giving away too much of the plot. If you want to get the most shock value out of this movie you are well-advised to avoid watching the trailer as it gives away a significant number of the movie's most suspenseful moments.

    What Lies Beneath is a better-than-average thriller which derives more than a little inspiration from the acknowledged master of thrillers, Alfred Hitchcock. Even the music score, by composer Alan Silvestri, was reminiscent of Vertigo, one of the master's best-known works.

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Transfer Quality


   The video transfer has a few instances of very annoying artefacts which detract from its otherwise very good quality.

    The transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is sharp and clear at all times and exhibits good shadow detail which is important as many scenes occur at night or under low light conditions. No low level noise was noted. Edge enhancement is rare and relatively minor in nature in this transfer.

    The colour was slightly muted in appearance and this is accentuated both by the rather drab colour scheme of the Spencer's house and the fact that much of the film was shot under less than brightly lit conditions.

    While artefacts were not a big problem with this transfer, they were present on occasion and in a couple of instances were quite annoying. Very few film artefacts are visible which is as it should be for a film of such recent vintage. Aliasing is evident on a couple of occasions in a minor way such as on the car grill at 17:55 and appears again at an annoying level on the Venetian blinds at 39:16. A very annoying moire pattern occurs on Harrison Ford's shirt between 14:21 and 15:30 and again in the Venetian blinds of his office at 49:07. No MPEG artefacts were noted.

    I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles and while they were not always 100% accurate the inaccuracies that were noted were very minor. I was disappointed by the subtitle placement as they were superimposed over the picture rather than being placed in the black area at the bottom of the screen.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed in the middle of Chapter 12, at 54:18. This is in the middle of a scene, and because it occurs in the middle of a conversation, as one character finishes speaking and another starts, I found it to be moderately annoying.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Two audio tracks are provided on this disc, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded commentary track by Director/Producer Robert Zemeckis and Producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.

    The dialogue was exclusively directed to the centre channel and was always clear. There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    I quite enjoyed the musical score of this movie, which was by composer Alan Silvestri who is one of Hollywood's better-known movie composers being responsible for the music of more than 50 movies including such well-known titles as Cast Away, Forrest Gump, The Abyss and the Back To The Future trilogy. It created just the right atmosphere, sometimes quiet, sometimes brooding, sometimes suspenseful and sometimes downright creepy as necessary to support the plot. The music ranged from subtle and low level to full-bodied and powerful. During the more suspenseful moments, the music volume increased significantly, sometimes building slowly and sometimes suddenly, to support the on-screen action.

    The surround speakers were used only for music and occasional sound effects at a fairly low level, with the exception of the more suspenseful moments when the volume level significantly increased. Similarly, the subwoofer came to life to support the suspenseful scenes and for sound effects such as thunder.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This disc has a fair selection of extras and it was nice to see that the trailer was 16x9 enhanced.


    The menu, which is 16x9 enhanced, and accompanied by music from the movie is first proceeded by a selection of short clips from the movie. On activation of any of the menu buttons, additional clips from the movie are shown before the next menu appears.

Audio Commentary - Robert Zemeckis (Producer/Director), Steve Starkey (Producer) and Jack Rapke (Producer)

   This is a very laid-back discussion which gives some insight into how the three became involved in the project, the casting of the various actors, how certain scenes were shot, and also presents some anecdotes about the filming of the movie. The most interesting story concerns the appearance of the words "you know" in the fogged bathroom mirror. Apparently this was not a special effect but a natural occurrence that was luckily captured on film. Appropriately spooky for a film like this!

    Overall there is nothing too exciting to be found in the commentary and I doubt that you'd find a reason to listen to it more than once.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

    These are more comprehensive than usual, not so much in the content of the individual biographies, but in that there are so many biographies provided:

    Cast - Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diana Scarwid, Amber Valletta, James Remar, Joe Morton, Miranda Otto.

    Crew - Robert Zemeckis (Director/Producer), Steve Starkey & Jack Rapke (Producers), Clark Gregg (Screenwriter), Joan Bradsure , Mark Johnson & Don Burgess (Executive Producers), Rick Carter & Jim Teegarden (Production Designers), Susie Desanto (Costume Designer), Arthur Schmidt (Editor), Alan Silvestri (Composer) and Rob Legato (Visual Effects Supervisor).

    It should be noted that there is a small problem navigating the biographies. Navigation is by the "next chapter" and "last chapter" buttons on your remote rather than the more usual method that uses screen icons. While you are able to page forward successfully with a single press of the "next chapter" button attempting to page backward using the "last chapter" button results in no change unless you press it twice in quick succession.

Production Notes

    Fourteen pages of production notes covering the usual fare: a short synopsis of the plot, shooting locations, choice of actors, and so forth.

    As for the biographies, the page backward button does not function as expected here either.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is of excellent quality and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio and runs for 2:28.

Featurette - Constructing The Perfect Thriller

    This is a typical promotional piece and runs for 14:25. It is presented in a ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. While it features some clips from the movie and a few words from its stars, rather than being about this movie, most of it is dedicated to the career of Robert Zemeckis, and contains clips of many of his films including Back To The Future, Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Contact.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Except for the inclusion of a dts soundtrack the discs are identical.


    What Lies Beneath is a very enjoyable thriller with enough genuinely scary moments and plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat.

    The video quality is very good except for a couple of annoying artefacts.

    The audio quality is excellent.

   The extras are satisfactory but nothing to get overly excited about.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Saturday, October 20, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-WV10HT LCD Projector on to 100" (254 cm) 16:9 ratio Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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