What Lies Beneath

Friday, January 1, 1999

Transcript from Dreamworks-organized focus group, immediately preceding the release (and subsequent commercial failure) of In Dreams:

Group Leader: So, you've all seen the movie. What would you change?

Unnamed Male: Well, I thought the daughter dying was a little much. Couldn't you tone it down a litte?

GL: Sure, sure. How about if we just send her off to college instead? That work for you?

UM: Yes, that's much better.

Unnamed Female: The movie was a little intense. All that frantic cutting. It was really scary and disturbing. It made me uncomfortable.

GL: Hmmm... It was supposed to be scary, but...

UF: It was just too much.

GL: All right. All right. What if we just inserted a good hour or so of Claire standing around with her eyes bugging out? Would that help?

UF: Oh, yes. That would be fine.

GL: Okay. Any other comments?

Unnamed Female 2: Well, if you want scary, you should insert some scenes where the door moves and you think it's going to be something scary, but it's really just the dog or the husband. Those are sooooo scary!

GL: Ummm... Okay. We'll add some of those.

UF2: And you should get rid of Robert Downey Jr.

GL: He's sort of important to the film.

UF2: Well, I don't like him.

GL: Fine. He's gone. Anything else?

Unnamed Male 2: Why did Annette Bening look so bad? I mean, didn't you have makeup people?

GL: I think they were trying to convey her inner decay.

UM2: Well, it's no fun to watch.

GL: Okay, we'll make sure she stays good looking throughout. Can her hair get kinda frizzy?

UM2: I suppose.

GL: Good. Any other changes?

UM: How about a red herring subplot that takes up the whole first act, but is discounted entirely by the advertising campaign?

UF: Yeah! That would be fun. And then I wouldn't feel bad about leaving to go get snacks!

...

Unfortunately, these notes reached the Dreamworks headquarters too late for these changes to be incorporated into In Dreams, leaving the execs no choice but to remake the film, now under the title What Lies Beneath. Clearly, the focus group paid off, as the remake has so far made nine times what the original did...

PS: I just realized the story for this film was by Sarah Kernochan who wrote and directed Strike (which is now entitled All I Wanna Do). Take your seven bucks and go rent yourself a double feature of this and In Dreams and you'll be much better off.

Rating: D- (Utterly horrid)

Reviewed by Padgett Arango
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