I just finished watching for the umpteenth time one of my favorite thrillers and favorite ghost stories…What Lies Beneath starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s classy and spooky. It’s got flavors of Hitchcock all over it without being derivative. It’s well-paced and has revelations and twists and red herrings and an ending that satisfies. I could go on forever about this film…
But what I want to talk about, you get right in the title and that’s Double Entendre. A Double Entendre is a kind of figure of speech that can be taken one of two ways…in other words it has a double meaning. While one of those meanings is more obvious to understand, the other is usually more subtle and often of a sexual nature, or a socially awkward nature.
An example of one of my favorite uses of double entendre is actress Mae West. She was always cracking them in her movies. For example, “I feel like a million tonight- but only one at a time.” Another example used in a title is the Twilight Episode “To Serve Man” abut aliens landing on earth and beginning to cart humans away to their world. They give the earthlings a book and the title is translated as “To Serve Man” which they take to mean to be of service to humanity only to find out as the first ship of humans is taking off that it’s a cookbook!
Not all double entendre are sexual in nature. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when Mercutio is dying he says, “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.” Meaning grave as in serious and grave as in dead!
The title What Lies Beneath plays on the fact that there is a dead body beneath the waters of the lake…oops, spoiler. It also refers to the lies that lie beneath the marriage of the main characters. These lies are revealed slowly and methodically as the narrative unfolds. The best part is that unless you’ve read this blog or seen the movie before, you don’t get the double entendre until after you get the ending. Well played! I can’t recommend this movie enough for fans of thrillers. There’s graphic scariness, but not gore. It’s a chiller for sure with great performances all around.