Having just sent their only daughter off to college, Dr. Norman Spencer and his wife, Claire, enjoy a tranquil life in the Vermont countryside. But his budding academic career and her adjustments to the empty nest are interrupted by spooky signs that they’re not alone. Part Tales from the Crypt, part Hitchcockian thriller, What Lies Beneath uses creepy, supernatural suspense to deliver more jolts than a caffeine IV drip. Computers, doors and bathroom plumbing operate by themselves. Eerie voices ride on summer winds. Images of a dead woman (some grotesque) pop up without warning. Claire suspects the deceased may be a missing neighbor, and conducts séances using a Ouija board and a book on witchcraft. after being possessed by the poltergeist, she learns that it isn’t her neighbor at all, but her husband’s dead mistress. A betrayed Claire says accusingly, "Now there’s a presence in our house." Yessir, and a vengeful one at that. The moral: Ghosts of marital infidelity linger long after the affair has ended.
Relatively mild violence is overshadowed by visual shockers. Meanwhile, about a dozen profanities include one f-word and several blasphemous uses of the Lord’s name. Sexual situations involve a couple overheard having sex. The Spencers share suggestive dialogue and seem to drink nothing but wine. The film’s most disturbing caveat, however, is its macabre core—and its heroine’s reliance on occult practices (expressly forbidden in Deut. 18:10-12).
What Lies Beneath may be an effective white-knuckler, but it’s certainly not a family-friendly one.