What Lies Beneath (2000)

(In theaters, October 2000) This exasperates the seasoned moviegoer at the same time than it thrills everyone who seen only one of two films a year. The endless use of jump shots (you know the drill: everything goes quiet when suddenly -WHAM- something appears in the frame.) is not only overused (there are nearly a dozen of them in the film) but they’re so obviously predictable that they’ll cause more groans than shrieks. The plotting plods along, wasting at least forty minutes of everyone’s time (and a few million dollars) with useless subplots and red herrings while, at the same time, the poster, trailers, ad copy and video box cover all jump-start the film by basically telling everything but the last fifteen minutes (which can be easily predicted by, again, the seasoned moviegoer, who’s seen this stuff far too many times already.) The setups are all so obvious that they might as well be underlined with subtitles stating Pay Attention. This Will Come Up Later. Still, not everything is awful; the film is boring until maybe thirty minutes before the end, when we move in true thriller territory and the directing itself seems to break loose from the pedestrian form it had followed this far. (And so we find ourselves peeping through floors and tracking someone from a long shot of a bridge to inside a truck cabin.) The awfully convenient ending (crashing through all this shrub to end up at this exact spot?) is way overboard, but by this time, the audience (seasoned or plain) is just grateful that stuff’s happening and special effects are used that it doesn’t really matter any more. A shameless, big-budget, big-stars film that doesn’t have a clue, but which will most certainly fool every casual viewer that it’s somewhat good.

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