new releases

HORROR What Lies Beneath (15) 129 mins * ‘k x it

What Lies Beneath is a suspense thriller that plays teasingly between genres. In its early stages, as fear begins to grip its emotionally fragile heroine, the film wavers between a psychological and a supernatural explanation for her distress. Soon everything becomes clear. The film is haunted by the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock.

To begin with, we appear to be in Rear Window territory - with Michelle Pfeiffer’s Claire Spencer in the role of the housebound James Stewart. Claire lives with her genetics professor husband Norman (Harrison Ford) in an idyllic lakeside house in Vermont. But all is not well in their ideal home.

Claire may not be encased in plaster, as was Stewart's photographer, but she is crippled emotionally. A former musician, she has just packed her only daughter off to college, but it's more than an empty nest that is troubling her. She is nervous, jumpy, and prone to burst into tears at the slightest provocation. Her new neighbours, mysterious couple Mary and Warren

Feur (Miranda Otto, James Remar), provide some distraction. But when they appear to rebuff her friendly overtures, she takes to spying on them through binoculars (shades of Stewart again). She and Norman overhear noisy lovemaking, followed by equally noisy arguments. Something is amiss. The woman next door disappears, her husband behaves suspiciously, and Claire finds an apparently blood-stained shoe.

But equally sinister things are going on in Claire's own house. She hears strange, whispering voices, half- glimpses a figure in mirrors. Doors open and close spontaneously, a framed photograph falls, and her bathtub fills by itself. Is the house haunted, or is Claire's

Swiftly degenerates into a predictable supernatural thriller


Book Of Shadows: Blair Witch 2

(18) 90 mins tbc * a:

The Blair Witch Project was just about the most hyped film ever. The public if not critical backlash to what clearly wasn’t a commerCial horror film was unSurprismgly harsh: everyone wanted to see the film last Halloween, a week later it had completely diyided audiences. The scariest film ever? Yes. No. A sequel was ineVitable, but how to go about making it? Surely the horror thriller so cleverly marketed as a 'real'

24 THE “ST 21 Sep—S Oct 2000

documentary largely over the internet - was a one-off?

The originators of the first film, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, have stepped back and let Joe Berlinger, a veteran documentary filmmaker direct (the irony of that is lost on no one, not least Berlinger). To his credit Berlinger threw out the scripts he was offered, which merely repeated the young people lost in the woods scenario filmed on ’shakey cam'. Instead, Berlinger's own script begins with the film phenomenon.

Real (yes, really real) intez‘Views with reSidents of Burkittswlle, Maryland (where Blair Witch was filmed) reveal a

The film is haunted by the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock

mounting hysteria a warped bid for attention as her tetchy husband believes?

Director Robert Zemeckis turns the screw of suspense with an expert hand, building tension with a canny mix of Alan Silvestri’s eerie score and even more ominous silences, while Pfeiffer involves us in every stage of Claire’s mental unravelling. What Lies Beneath is undeniably derivative - but spotting the influences is part of the fun. Extremely well-crafted, it will have audiences jumping with fright almost as much as its frazzled heroine. But one puzzle remains. Why on earth does Ford - and not Pfeiffer - get top billing? (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 20 Oct.

mix of resentment at their town being overrun by fans and entrepreneurial zeal in explomng them, What follows is a ‘dramatic reconstruction of the events' (i e. not shakey caml following two academics, a Goth and a wiccan (white witch) who are lead by a tour guide into the Black Hills woods in search of the Blair Witch, The first night they make camp, set up half a dozen cameras and get drunk. In the morning the camp has been ransacked, the cameras vandalised, academic notes shredded, but the Video tapes are intact. Then each member of the group begins to experience nightmarish halluCinations ,

Though Berlinger attempts to confound expectations, Book Of Shadows swiftly degenerates into the kind of predictable supernatural thriller you wOuld expect to be released straight-to-Video. There's no attempt to explain nor expand the first film's myths and the concluding comment on the effect Violent films have on audiences is lame. Blair Witch was never going to be easy to follow, but the cryptically-titled Book Of Shadows is a wasted opportunity. (Miles Flelder‘ I General release from Fri 27 Oct


In The Mood For Love (PG) 97 mins * ‘k a: x t

Certain mini-genres lend themselves well to the private moment and passionate desire; the adulterous romance of One Night Stand, say, Or the adult incest film, like Close My Eyes. Wong Kar-Wai's latest is as 'private' a film as either of them, but pleasure in Kar-Wai’s is often obliquer psychological and subterranean rather than furtively passionate. Yes, Happy Together was relatively explicit, but you frequently sense in his films that the characters enjoy the private moments as much for their privacy as for any primal pleaSure derived from being alone together.

After all, in Kar-Wai's new film the adulterous romance is happening elsewhere between the husband of secretary Maggie Cheung and the wife of Tong Leung’s jOurnalist. Here the director’s interest lies with the cuckolded, and the way that perhaps something even more intense, personal and fortuitous develops out of their shared ’adulteree’ status.

Liying in the same cramped apartment block in 605 Hong Kong, Cheung and Leung's intimate

friendship sometimes seems to owe more to the narrow corridors and tight interiors than any intentionality on the part of the characters. If their shared dilemma is activated by the actions of their spouses, by the same token their close contact with each other is often dictated by spatial limitation,

With Nat King Cole on the s0undtrack, and regular Chris Doyle behind the camera, Kar-Wai offers a seductive Surface texture but also uses a wardrobe design of some ambivalence He has Cheung trussed up in dresses that are simultaneOusly destructive and unweicoming. She looks penCiI slim, but her attire also makes her look like a no-go zone, with the dresses forbiddineg high-collared and chaste Leung, meanwhile, is trim and dapper, a man generaly given to smart appearance over ostentation. Once again we notice the directOr emphasising the semi-accidental over the clearly intentional, Cheung and Leung look devastatingly sexy, certainly. but this isn't noirish eroticism so much as an appeal that plays On an alluring refusal to signal categoricai motive in clothing an action. This is Subtly stunning filmmaking. (Tony McKibbinl a GFT, Glasgow, Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 27 Oct.

Subtly stunning filmmaking


* t t t x Unmissable

it t i it Very good

* - * Worth a shot

* “A Below average

t You’ve been warned