(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror. In this edition: This iconic scene in What Lies Beneath uses a classic scare tactic to catapult the tension to unbearable levels.)
Upon release in theaters 20 years ago this week, Robert Zemeckis’ attempt to channel Alfred Hitchcock with his PG-13 supernatural thriller What Lies Beneath failed to impress critics, despite making a strong showing at the box office. Written by actor Clark Gregg (The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), the film employs the typical scare tactics, a fairly standard ghost story, and a few overt nods to Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The film’s biggest strength comes from its casting; Michelle Pfeiffer makes for a compelling, sympathetic protagonist unaffected by the script’s limitations. The second not-so-secret weapon is the memorable bathtub scene that kickstarts the film’s thrilling climax. Zemeckis eschewed the traditional role of a jump scare by using it to create tension instead of relieving it, and it delivers the film’s standout moment as a result.
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What Lies Beneath is a film I really didn’t like when I saw it upon its release in 2000. As a fan of Robert Zemeckis, I was looking forward to him taking on a Hitchcockian thriller with a cast top-lined by Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. And when I left the theatre that first time, I wholly rejected it. The supernatural elements of the film turned me off, feeling like a complete betrayal of the human monsters of Alfred Hitchcock’s oeuvre. I went in expecting one thing, got another, and let that bad taste simmer in my mouth for almost twenty years.
But I think it’s time we go back and take a look at What Lies Beneath with fresh, more mature eyes and meet on a level with the intentions of the filmmaker in mind, rather than the baggage we brought to it.
This post contains spoilers.
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This weekend brings the true story of The Walk to theaters everywhere after an exclusive IMAX 3D engagement began last week. Director Robert Zemeckis has finally figured out a way to use 3D to his advantage, and without hollow, haunting motion capture characters , by crafting one of the most breathtaking, suspenseful sequences that film has seen in a long time.
So as the tale of wire walker Philipe Petit’s daring stunt between the Twin Towers gets a wide release this weekend, it’s the perfect time to look back at the films of Robert Zemeckis. Beginning with his first feature film in 1978 and running through this year’s The Walk, we have all of the Robert Zemeckis films ranked. Which one made #1? Read More »