Scary movies just aren’t my thing, but I made it all the way through What Lies Beneath, simply because I couldn’t take my eyes off the house.
Filming began in 1999 in Addison, Vermont, on the banks of Lake Champlain. Screenwriter Clark Gregg says he had always envisioned Claire and Norman Spencer living in Burlington, Vermont, which is an academic community like the one Norman is a part of.
The location was perfect except for one thing: they needed a house. So production designers Rick Carter and Jim Teegarden worked with director Bob Zemeckis to design the 3,500-square-foot Nantucket-style shingled house, which was constructed from the ground up (and, sadly, torn down after filming).
Zemeckis says the house had to work on two levels: it had to look like a kind of dream house in the sunlight, but when the shadows or light hit it a certain way, it would turn ominous.
According to the production notes on the DVD special features, they then duplicated both the exterior and interior on soundstages in L.A.
Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford play Claire and Norman Spencer, a beautiful, happily married couple who have just moved into this old house in Vermont and renovated it. It was Norman’s late father’s house, who died and left the house to them. So at first when strange things start happening, they think it might be his ghost. Norman jokes that maybe he doesn’t like the changes they made to the house.
Oh, if only it had been his father’s ghost rattling around! The front door keeps opening on its own. That’s never a good sign…
Later in the movie, when things get worse (I’ll try not to spoil anything here), we get a view of the hall from the floor. Love that bench and umbrella stand:
Looking down into Norman’s study:
The living room has a view of the water:
I wish we could have seen more of the kitchen. We only got a couple of brief glimpses into it:
The sets don’t look dated ten years later. The upstairs hallway:
Claire’s daughter Caitlin’s bedroom. After they drop her off at college, Claire spends most days alone in the house (if you don’t count the ghost):
Claire and Norman’s bedroom:
I tried to get a shot of the round windowseat in the bedroom, but this is the best I could do:
The bathroom, where at least 75% of the truly scream-worthy things happen. I may never take a bath again:
They did so much filming in this bathroom that they created five different versions of it for the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer says that it was hard not to laugh sometimes because she could hear the crew in the bathroom noisily filling the bathtub and setting things up for her to walk in and be scared by, but she had to pretend not to notice.
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