A spooky and occasionally quite sexy supernatural horror-thriller that gets by on its Hitchcockian vibe and a superb performance from Michelle Pfeiffer, despite it being deadly obvious after a certain point where the story is going.
Pfeiffer plays Claire, an empty-nested housewife, who begins snooping around and spying on her neighbor after suspecting he has murdered his wife, while at the same time, strange things happen around her newly renovated lakeside house – doors creak open on their own, a picture frame keeps falling over, and she keeps walking by her bathroom to find light and steam spilling out of it, her claw-foot tub inexplicably full to the brim.
Claire’s suspicions of foul play next door suggest a take on Rear Window, but that proves to be a red herring; the real threat is the ghost in Claire’s own home, the question then being who is haunting her and why. The script lays out bread crumbs for Claire to follow with a groaning lack of subtlety, and once Claire’s husband Norman (Harrison Ford) is revealed to have been unfaithful with a student who has since gone missing, it leaves little doubt as to who this malevolent spirit really has it out for.
Pfeiffer makes Claire’s hunger to unravel the mystery compelling, and Zemeckis delectably directs more than a handful of thrilling scenes, aided by Alan Silvestri’s inherently suspenseful, Bernard Hermanesque orchestral score. The steamy bathroom is the site of a late game nail-biter, sharply edited and tightly shot, and a pulpy eroticism reaches its apex in a seduction scene where Pfeiffer oozes a deliciously frightening sexual confidence. So although it’s hampered by its eventual predictability, as well as incoherent development in Ford’s character, the movie’s unshowy stylishness and lead performance keep it afloat.
What Lies Beneath Trailer
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SYNOPSIS: In ‘You Wouldn’t Understand’, one man’s elegant picnic is shattered when a stranger approaches, leaving nothing but churning questions. Is it ever okay to interrupt someone at peace with a picnic? What motives lay beneath a seemingly mundane ask? What does decadence look like when locked in a time loop of horseradish and death? Ultimately, we’re reminded never to believe in the promise of a perfect day. the comfort of a blue sky, or the serenity of a beautiful setting. Because when a slow wave of Hitchcock smashes against the rocks of Monty Python, the result is a film and a world that you wouldn’t understand. But you should certainly try.
REVIEW: Time travel, time loops, destiny, free will. These are all very serious topics that typically get explored in very serious and often lengthy forms of media. You Wouldn’t Understand takes these topics, adds a dash of absurdism, and crunches them into a film that lasts less than ten minutes. The end result is a wonderfully bizarre short that packs a lot of fun into that time frame.
You Wouldn’t Understand immediately sets its tone as it opens on a man (Anthony Arkin) in a pretentious gray-toned outfit chuckling to himself as he eats at his picnic for one—complete with horseradish sauce (delicious, I guess?). He’s having a jolly good time guffawing at his book and looking out over the fields until another man (Jacob A. Ware) shows up. The second man seemingly murders someone who looks an awful lot like himself before jogging up to the first man, and jovially asking for the horseradish sauce, as one does. Things quickly snowball into a time travel conspiracy from there. As one does.
Director (and co-writer with Ware) Trish Harnetiaux manages to keep the film suspenseful while never losing the absurdly comedic tone, pulling off a tricky balancing act with deftness. Arkin and Ware give delightful performances, Arkin playing the ignorant straight man to Ware’s slightly unhinged time traveler(s) with a penchant for exaggeration. The script is clever and zany, the music is wonderful, and the nine minutes fly by in the best way possible. You Wouldn’t Understand does leave us with more questions than answers, but over-explaining would sap the life out of it—and, honestly, when you’re having this much fun watching a movie, who cares?
VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR Trish Harnetiaux