What Lies Beneath

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What Lies Beneath is a 2000 American supernatural horror-thriller film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer as Norman and Claire Spencer, a couple with a seemingly perfect marriage who experience a strange and terrifying haunting that uncovers secrets about their past and seems to threaten their lives.

Tropes used in What Lies Beneath include:


  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Creepy Souvenir: One of Madison Elizabeth Frank
  • Dark Secret
  • Eye Awaken: A previously-unconscious Norman's eyes fly open as Claire makes her escape from the house during the climax.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: Norman's fingers twitch as he's lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Madison is briefly seen reflected in the bath water for a second time (during the "YOU KNOW") scene. She only appears for about a second. Another example occurs at the very end of the film: as the camera pans down and the screen fades to black, an image of Madison's face can be seen in the snow.
  • Ghostly Goals: A combination of both Type A and Type B.
  • Haunted Heroine: Claire
  • The Immodest Orgasm: The Feurs' "Sexual Olympics" (as described by Norman).
  • Jump Scare: Several, but perhaps the best example is Madison's first appearance, reflected in the bath water.
    • The first time Claire's face morphs into that of Madison's is jarring enough. The second time it happens - when Claire's face suddenly morphs into Madison's very dead, very decomposing face - is downright horrifying.
  • Karmic Death: Norman is killed in the same way he murdered Madison - via drowning. Not only that, but he dies in the same lake in which he disposed of her body.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Norman placed Madison's body into her car and rolled it into the lake.
  • Mirror Scare: All over the place. This film will probably make you paranoid about looking into water or bathroom mirrors for a long time.
  • Nightmare Face: Claire's face morphing into Madison's dead, blue face.
  • Nothing Is Scarier
  • Oh Crap: A particularly chilling version happens towards the end, when Claire realises that Norman most certainly did not dial 911. Later, during the climax, Norman has one when the very dead Madison tilts her head towards him.
  • Oops, I Dropped the Keys
  • Playing Against Type: This was only the second time that Harrison Ford played a villain.
  • Rear Window Investigation
  • The Reveal: Many.
  • Shout-Out: Robert Zemekis consciously shot the film in the style of Alfred Hitchcock, if he had access to digital technology. Also, there are many references to Hitchcock films, such as Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, Rebecca and Spellbound.
  • Spooky Seance
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer completely spoils the fact that Norman had an affair with Madison, and by extension also spoils that the ghost is not Mary Feur, but Madison Elizabeth Frank.