''What Lies Beneath'' is a 2000 American supernatural horror-thriller film directed by Creator/RobertZemeckis. It stars Creator/HarrisonFord 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.

Zemeckis made the film during a hiatus for ''CastAway'', waiting for Tom Hanks to lose enough weight to play a man stranded on an island for four years.

'''Some unmarked spoilers ahead.'''
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!!This film contains examples of:

* AdultFear: Imagine learning that [[spoiler:the person you love is an unrepentant murderer.]]
* AndIMustScream: During the climax, [[spoiler:Norman drugs Claire with a paralysing agent, leaving her completely unable to move a muscle but fully aware of everything going on around her. He then places her in the bathtub in an attempt to drown her and make it look like suicide.]]
* AxCrazy: [[spoiler:Norman]], once everything is out in the open.
* BigBad: [[spoiler:Norman.]]
* BitchInSheepsClothing:: [[spoiler:Norman]], after TheReveal of why Madison haunts the Spencers.
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:Madison gets her vengeance by killing Norman and is able to finally move on. Claire is undoubtedly left mentally scarred from everything that's happened, but her visit to Madison's grave seems to imply that she's making steps towards getting on with her life.]]
* BodyHorror: [[spoiler:Madison]]'s decomposing corpse.
* BrokenBird: Claire has shades of this after her oft-mentioned car accident, and there is no possible way she makes it through the rest of the film unbroken.
* [[CatScare Dog Scare]]: How the [[spoiler:seance]] ends.
* ChekhovsGun: Early ghostly activity causes Claire to find a key hidden in Norman's study. [[spoiler:The key eventually leads Claire to evidence that Norman killed Madison.]]
** Throw-away dialogue between Norman and Claire mentions how they can't get cell phone reception until they reach the center of a bridge. [[spoiler:This becomes a plot point when Claire tries to escape from Norman.]]
** Early on when Claire visits Norman at work, she overhears a discussion about a paralysing agent and witnesses it being tested on a rat. [[spoiler:Norman drugs Claire with the same agent in the climax.]]
* ClingyJealousGirl: Madison is painted as one by [[spoiler:Norman]], although it's very likely another lie.
* CreepySouvenir: One of Madison Elizabeth Frank's hair braids.
* DangerousKeyFumble: Claire fumbles with the keys when escaping from the house towards the end, giving [[spoiler:Norman]] just enough time to hitch a ride without her noticing.
* DarkSecret: [[spoiler:Norman isn't quite the perfect husband Claire thinks he is...]]
* DeadpanSnarker: Norman has a tendency to snark a lot, as does Claire's friend Jody (particularly during the seance). Claire also gets at least one good snark in:
--> '''Claire:''' Oh, great. 'Could you check in on my wife? She’s hearing voices.' Yeah, wait until that gets around.
* DecoyProtagonist: [[spoiler:At first, much like the revelation of Creator/EmmaRoberts' role in ''Film/{{Scream 4}}'', it seems Norman was just another heroic male lead for Harrison Ford to play opposite Michelle Pfeiffer's female lead as Claire, but then, it's revealed Norman is the BigBad, while Claire is the sole main protagonist.]]
* DemonicPossession: Claire [[WillingChanneler allows herself to be possessed]] by [[spoiler:Madison]], which allows her to find out the truth about [[spoiler:the affair]]. She later inadvertently allows another possession as [[spoiler:Norman attempts to drown her]].
* DomesticAbuser: Subverted. [[spoiler: Warren Feur initially comes across like this, but it's all a misunderstanding.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Subverted. Norman claims Madison killed herself when he tried to break off their affair. He's lying. He also intends to make Claire's death look like this as well.]]
* EnvironmentalSymbolism: The film takes place from Summer to Winter, and the seasons gradually change as the story becomes darker. This is confirmed as a deliberate choice in the director's commentary.
* EvilDetectingDog: Played with. Cooper doesn't seem to detect ghosts or see any wrongdoing (aside from the scene where he barks at the lake instead of jumping in to get his ball). [[spoiler: Even when Norman is revealed to be the killer, [[PetTheDog he doesn't attack him]]. However when he sees Claire lying motionless in the tub, he refuses to leave her, prompting Norman to drag the dog out of the bathroom.]]
* EyeAwaken: [[spoiler:Unconscious Norman's eyes fly open as Claire makes her escape from the house during the climax.]]
* FadeToWhite: [[spoiler:After avenging her own murder, Madison floats through the lake, now at peace, and as she closes her eyes the scene fades to white before transitioning to the final graveyard scene, symbolising that she's now passed into the afterlife.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil: [[spoiler:Norman, thanks to his actor Harrison Ford's natural acting charm.]]
* FingerTwitchingRevival: [[spoiler:Norman's fingers twitch as he's lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs.]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Claire having a car accident prior to the events of the film is mentioned a few times. [[spoiler:It turns out she had the accident after driving off in a heartbroken rage after discovering Norman's affair, and the accident left her unable to remember the affair -- until Madison makes her remember.]]
** During the dinner party, Norman converses with a friend about a fellow instructor who has been caught sleeping with his student. [[spoiler:Norman himself had an affair with Madison, one of his students, and is revealed to have murdered her to keep their fling a secret.]]
** Early on, Claire tells Norman that he has a tendency to overreact. [[spoiler:This turns out to be a massive understatement - he murders Madison after she threatens to go to university authorities about their affair, and then tries to murder Claire when she figures out the truth.]]
* FreezeFrameBonus: [[spoiler: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: [[spoiler:as the camera pans down and the screen fades to black, an image of Madison's face can be seen in the snow.]]
* GetOut: Claire yells this at Norman after [[spoiler:remembering his affair with Madison.]]
* GhostlyGoals: A combination of both Type A and a little bit of Type B: [[spoiler:Madison wants to exact revenge on Norman, but also leaves clues for Claire to lead her towards the truth.]]
* GoOutWithASmile: [[spoiler:Madison's spirit, having avenged her own death, gives a small, peaceful smile as she floats through the lake.]]
* HappilyMarried: Deconstructed. Claire and Norman appear to be this on the surface, but as the film goes on it becomes clear that they have some marital issues, past and present. For one, Norman doesn't treat Claire's suspicions of the Feurs and her claims of supernatural events seriously and dismisses her concerns at virtually every turn (although [[spoiler:he does [[JerkassHasAPoint turn out to be correct]] in the case of the former]]). It is also implied that Norman made Claire choose between him and her career as a cellist, which she holds some resentment for. Then there's the fact that [[spoiler:Norman cheated on Claire a year prior to the events of the film]]... and that [[spoiler:he murdered Madison and then tries to do the same to Claire.]]
* HauntedHeroine: Claire.
* HeKnowsTooMuch: [[spoiler: Norman killed Madison when she threatened to go to university authorities about their relationship, which would have likely gotten him fired and ruined his reputation, and he tries to kill Claire when she figures everything out.]]
* {{Homage}}: Some scenes are an homage to ''Film/{{Psycho}}'' and ''Film/RearWindow''.
* IdenticalStranger: Madison is physically very similar looking to Claire, which is acknowledged in-universe, [[spoiler:and may be one of the reasons why Norman had an affair with Madison]]. According to the director's commentary, Michelle Pfeiffer was extremely surprised when she first met Amber Valletta, as it was like looking at a younger version of herself.
* TheImmodestOrgasm: The Feurs' "Sexual Olympics", as described by Norman.
* {{Irony}}: Claire is terrified that their neighbor murdered his wife, [[spoiler: never realizing, until the end, that her own husband is a killer and will try to kill her as well]].
* ItsAllAboutMe: Norman acts like something of a {{Jerkass}} towards Claire's haunting claims at first, apparently believing that she's inventing the claims for attention because of all the work he's been doing. He also tries to justify his [[spoiler:affair with Madison by blaming it on his and Claire's marital issues.]] His entire motivation for [[spoiler:killing Madison was to try and preserve his reputation/not get fired from his job, and when Claire figures everything out, he tries to murder her as well.]]
* JumpScare: Several, but perhaps the best example is [[spoiler:Madison's]] first appearance, [[MirrorScare reflected in the bath water]].
** The first time [[spoiler:Claire's face morphs into that of Madison's]] is jarring enough. The ''second'' time it happens -- when [[spoiler:Claire's face suddenly morphs into Madison's very dead, very decomposing face]] -- is downright ''horrifying''.
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler: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.]]
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: [[spoiler: Norman first attempts to invoke this trope by claiming that Madison killed herself after he broke off the relationship. Then when he admits that he killed her, he still tried to invoke it by placing her body into her car and rolling it into the lake. He intends to make Claire's death look like a suicide as well.]]
* MirrorScare: Several. This film will probably make you paranoid about looking into water or bathroom mirrors for a ''long'' time.
* MistakenForMurderer: [[spoiler:Warren Feur.]]
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: [[spoiler:Norman's determination to kill Claire in the climax results in Madison's corpse being freed from her car at the bottom of the lake, allowing Madison to possess her own corpse to [[PayEvilUntoEvil exact her revenge on Norman]].]]
* NightmareFace: [[spoiler:Claire's face morphing into Madison's dead, blue face.]]
* NosyNeighbor: Claire to the Feurs, though not entirely without good reason.
* NothingIsScarier: Much of the film runs on this, particularly the first half.
* OhCrap: A particularly chilling version happens towards the end, when Claire realizes that [[spoiler:Norman most certainly did ''not'' dial 911.]] Later, during the climax, Norman has one when [[spoiler:the very dead Madison ''tilts her head towards him''.]]
* TheOner: There are multiple, unbroken shots used throughout the film to increase the tension.
* RearWindowInvestigation: Claire towards the Feurs.
* RedHerring: [[spoiler: The couple next door are perfectly nice -- if a bit intense -- and neither is dead or a murderer.]]
* TheReveal: Several, but none are more shocking than the fact that [[spoiler:Norman is the killer.]]
* RewatchBonus: [[spoiler:On a repeat viewing, Norman's stunned reaction when Claire hands him Madison's "missing person" poster takes on a whole new meaning.]]
* ShoutOut:
** Robert Zemekis consciously shot the film in the style of Creator/AlfredHitchcock, if he had access to digital technology. Also, there are many references to Hitchcock films, such as ''Film/{{Psycho}}'', ''Film/RearWindow'', ''Film/{{Vertigo}}'', ''Film/{{Rebecca}}'' and ''Film/{{Spellbound}}''.
** The neighbor's [[spoiler:truthful]] protest of "I didn't kill my wife!", precisely what Creator/HarrisonFord said in ''Film/TheFugitive''.
* SnowMeansDeath: [[spoiler: The film's final scene is of Claire placing a rose on Madison's tombstone, in the midst of a snowy winter day.]]
* SpookySeance: Claire and Jody use a Ouija board to try and contact the ghost.
* SupernaturalProofFather: Norman plays this annoyingly straight throughout much of the film, but then comes to believe Claire's claims. [[spoiler:Then when it is revealed that he is Madison's killer, he says that he believed her "ghost story" was an attempt to catch him.]]
* TapOnTheHead: Averted. [[spoiler:Madison possessing the paralysed Claire startles Norman so badly he falls and smacks his head on the sink, resulting in his concussion and knocking him out cold. When he wakes up, he manages to make it downstairs before passing out again.]]
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: Do ''not'' watch the trailer until you've seen the film. It ''completely'' spoils the fact that [[spoiler:Norman had an affair with Madison, and by extension also spoils that the subplot involving the couple next door is a RedHerring]], therefore sapping much of the movie of its suspense. [[spoiler:The final twist]], however, is thankfully not spoiled.
* TraumaCongaLine: The entire movie - as well as the events preceding it - is a long one of these for Claire. Her first husband and father of her daughter passed away some years prior to the film, then she has a car accident which leaves her with a spotty memory [[spoiler:after learning of Norman having an affair.]] Then her daughter Caitlin goes off to college, and given how close they are, this greatly upsets her. Then she starts experiencing supernatural events and becomes convinced that [[spoiler:her neighbour is the ghost, and was murdered by her husband]], only to be proven wrong - in public - utterly humiliating her. Then she finds out who the ghost really is, and, following said ghost possessing her, remembers [[spoiler:Norman's affair with Madison]]. ''Then'' she finds out that [[spoiler:Norman, the man she loves, murdered Madison, and nearly gets murdered by him herself before managing to escape.]] The poor woman has it ''rough''.
* WhamShot: Towards the end, Claire is still suspicious [[spoiler:of Norman]], so she redials the last number called on the telephone... [[spoiler:and sees that he dialled ''411'' instead of 911.]] This is immediately followed up by [[spoiler:Norman suddenly appearing behind her and attacking her.]]
** Halfway through the film, Claire spots Warren Feur in a crowd and angrily confronts him over [[spoiler:murdering his wife]]. Cue [[spoiler:Mary Feur emerging from the toilet, very much alive and well.]]
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: The Spencer's dog, Cooper, completely disappears from the film after [[spoiler:Norman takes him out of the bathroom while he's trying to drown Claire]]. It's plausible that [[spoiler:Norman shut him in a room out of the way]].
* WoundedGazelleGambit: [[spoiler:When Claire returns home the morning after storming out on Norman, she finds him unconscious in the bathtub, having apparently electrocuted himself. As it turns out, he's faking it.]]
* YourCheatingHeart: [[spoiler:Norman cheating on Claire with Madison is the driving force behind the plot.]]
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