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Well, my goodness, am I disappointed. When I first heard news of a remake
of Robert Wise's 1963 film, "The Haunting", I had a fear that it would be
ruined by an abundance of summer-movie sized visual effects. But, deep
down, I had faith. Surely, with such a talented cast intact...De Bont and
company will not ruin a film, who's original was a fantastic and frightening
movie that understood the delicate art of subtlety. Well, subtlety, where
are you now!!?? My fears have manifested...a promising movie has gone
Yes, Eugenio Zannetti's production design is jaw-dropping; the movie is
wonderfully photographed; and composer Jerry Goldsmith can never EVER do
But, the script puts it's fine actors to the test..asking them to deliver
the kind of stilted dialogue that is only spoken in movies. In the end, the
always wonderful Lili Taylor is the only performer to escape with some
dignity...and that's just barely.
But, the crime of all crimes is that the horror is shown to us. We can no
longer use our imaginations, feel that horrible dread of fear of the
unknown. No, we get some visual effects to SHOW US what we're supposed to
be afraid of...and you know what? As wonderfully realized as they are...the
visual effects come off as sort of silly. And the climax is a
phantasmogoric mess...but things had gone terribly wrong long before that.
Everything in The Haunting is overdone and overblown. I'm afraid there are no real thrills or creaks in this old haunted house monstrosity...only groans. Check out the original instead.
For movie fans who have never heard of the book (Shirley Jackson's "The
Haunting of Hill House") and have never seen the 1963 Robert Wise
with Julie Harris, this remake will seem pretty darn bad.
For those of us who have, it is just plain awful.
Bad acting (what was Neeson thinking?), goofy computer enhancements, and a further move away from Jackson's story doom this remake.
Do yourself a favor and rent the original movie. It still effectively scares without hokey special effects. The acting is professional and believable.
For readers of the book, the from 1963 follows the it much closer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Haunting, if you have seen the original, you know a great ghost
story, it's perfection on film. It's a haunting tale of 4 people who go
into a haunted house and with the simple trick of sound and movements,
it terrified people. It still remains effective to this day if you
appreciate film. So when The Haunting was remade in 1999, a lot of
people pretty much had the same reaction "WHAT? WHY? WHAT THE
" But in
my opinion if a remake is respectful enough and just wants to reinvent
the story for the newer generation, I'm pretty cool with it. This is
definitely not the case, this is just a disrespectful boring shame that
will waste your time and I guarantee will deliver no scares
PG-13, what where they thinking? Not much apparently.
When her mother dies and her sister evicts her, Nell receives a phone call, telling her about an ad for an insomnia study run by Doctor David Marrow at Hill House, a secluded manor. Upon arrival, Nell meets Mr. and Mrs. Dudley, a strange pair of caretakers who do not stay on the property after dark. Shortly thereafter, two other participants in the study arrive, wild Theo and "bad sleeper" Luke Sanderson along with Doctor Marrow. Unknown to the participants, Doctor Marrow's true purpose is to study the psychological response to fear. Each night, the caretakers chain the gate outside Hill House, preventing anyone from getting in or out until morning, when the caretakers open the lock. There are no working telephones inside Hill House and the nearest town is several miles away. Doctor Marrow revels the story of Hill House. The house was built by Hugh Crain, Crain built the house for his wife, hoping to fill it with a large family full of children, however all of Crain's children died during birth. Crain's wife killed herself before the house was finished, and Crain became a recluse. The first night, Theo and Nell begin to experience strange phenomenon within the house, including odd noises and inexplicable temperature changes. Nell is confronted after the main hallway is vandalized with the words "Welcome Home, Eleanor", and becomes extremely distraught, setting out to prove that the house is haunted by the souls of those victimized by Crain's cruelty. She learns that Crain built his fortune by exploiting kidnapped children for slave labor and murdering them when they were of no more use to him. He then burned the bodies in the house's fireplace to hide any evidence. She also learns that Crain had a second wife named Carolyn, of whom Nell is descended. Everyone thinks she's crazy while Nell is convinced this is where she belongs.
Seriously, I suggest you stay away from this film, it's really stupid and pointless. Not to mention the actress the played Nell, Lili Taylor completely annoyed me, her performance, her look, just everything about her, don't get me started on things I would do just to not see her in film again. Catherine Zeta Jones just didn't fit in her role as well and Liam Neeson, a wonderful actor wasted talent once again. The effects are way over the top and too computerized, I just can't believe that they would trash a wonderful classic with this crud. Believe me, if you are going to be afraid of something, be afraid of seeing how you can turn a great ghost story into an annoying piece of overblown stupid . Oh, this film is already hurting me, just don't see it, it's bad.
* and 1/2 stars out of ****
The Haunting is actually a relatively decent film for the first 45 or so minutes. The setup is promising, the production design of the mansion is a sight to behold, and the cast seems to be enjoying themselves. It's unfortunate, however, because after that the film begins to fall apart, leading all the way to the ridiculously bad finale.
Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) is conducting a test on fear, using the bait-and-switch method. By doing so, he's pretending to do a study on insomnia at the Crain estate, a manor 9 miles from the closest town. The "test subjects" that arrive include Eleanor (Lili Taylor), a hard-working woman who has had little success in life, Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an adventuress and proclaimed bi-sexual, and Luke (Owen Wilson), an all-around jokester.
On the first night in the mansion, Eleanor and Theo hear thundering sounds in the walls, but pass it off as a problem in the plumbing. But events get even more bizarre, as Eleanor sees some sort of a figure inside the fireplace, that just as soon disappears. Slowly, Eleanor begins to believe that there are ghosts in the house, ghosts of dead children and the owner of the mansion himself, the evil Hugh Crain. She also makes a discover about her connection with the mansion that could help free the children's spirits.
The Haunting never features one scary moment. Rather than going for subtle chills or all-out shocks like in House on Haunted Hill, Jan De Bont prefers to rely everything on the special effects, which really are rather unconvincing, particularly the statues that come to life and the CGI ghosts.
It even manages to get worse. Now, to be fair, the film was getting dull by the 90-minute mark so I was initially entertained by the effects-filled finale. But everything gets positively ridiculous in the last ten minutes, as we find out evil ghosts like to play hide-and-seek and smash things up real good.
The blame should fall on director Jan De Bont and writer David Self. De Bont seems to care more about what special effect to use next to "wow" the audience rather than actually trying anything innovative. Self really can't seem to write a good story or truly interesting characters. The dialogue is perhaps the worse of his writing skills.
The only thing that keeps this film from a lower rating is the cast, and they do their best to keep the film respectable. Liam Neeson probably delivers the best performance, being neither as dull or unemotional as critics thought. Catherine Zeta-Jones shows a lot of life as Theo, as does Owen Wilson. It's a pity that Lili Taylor's performance, which was decent at first, turned to borderline camp by the finale.
With nary a true scare in sight, The Haunting should best be seen by those who are scared easily or special effects fans. For everybody else, this is probably a house not to spend the night at.
The Haunting is a film that boasts a really creepy house, good effects work and sound work, a cast that seems to believe that everything around them is real and that house. There are scenes that make you jump, and the sinister aspects of what went on at Hill House in the past, I found interesting. There are genuinely creepy moments in the film and I liked the way the ghosts manifested themselves in sheets, curtains and the house itself. Jerry Goldsmith's score gave it the right atmosphere and the sound design had voices popping up around you. What I wish could've happened is for something a little more intense. Jan De Bont had a PG-13 rating to contend with and I think that he held back a little too much. Poltergeist scared me silly when I saw it many years ago, and it still holds up. The Haunting could've used a few more scenes of pure terror. The ending was for me, a little anticlimactic. Overall, I enjoyed it. The acting is good and there are moments that make you jump. I just wish it scared me more.
I didn't have too much of a hope I would like this new Jan De Bont film, but after giving it a go today, I was impressed. De Bont is a terrific creator of suspense and camera setups. All his hard work as a cinematographer paid off in movies such as these. He really knows how to build up an atmosphere accompanied by subtle visual effects and sound design. The way that big house groans and 'breathes' just makes my heart beat faster. Equally great is Jerry Goldsmith's score. In some scenes when combined with the atmospheric sound effects it made my neckhair stand up. I was genuinely terrified. A special mention must go to the art direction and set decoration. The house has such wonderful and at the same time disturbing architecture, the thought of having to spend a night there gives me the chills. About the acting, I thought it was nothing special. The Haunting is a solely audiovisual experience, where acting is only of secondary importance. In short, I enjoyed this movie and didn't think the ending was bad. I see about 200-300 movies each year, and I see a lot of bad ones, but this is not one of them. Go see it and decide for yourself.
I know it is fashionable now to hate this movie. I have seen hundreds of spook films including he original 1963 Haunting as well as most of the Hammer films. This film is not restrained and does not hold back at all which is probably why so many modern viewers seemed not to like it. Yet many viewers can accept out of control films like Scream because knife killers are more easy to believe for most people than demons or ghosts. Actually this film had many great scenes and the acting and special effects were great. I have seen it 15 times now and it gets better every time. The director of this film has made a number of interesting and stylish films and was not trying for the type of realism of the 6th sense. The Haunting lets go and is certainly not boring. Perhaps this film might appeal more to John Carpenter fans but more of an traditional plot structure. The old Haunting was also a fine film from 1963. It was even more scary. See both and also The Innocents and The Legend of Hell House with Pamela Franklin.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Considering the original film version of 'The Haunting" is in my top ten films of all time' I approached this adaption with trepidation. I was right to be cautious as this film is a poorly written and badly executed load of old tosh, all those involved should be ashamed. the original was terrifying to me as a child for one reason! you see nothing. Robert Wise used innovative camera-work and superb lighting to generate fear and this is why it work's. The shame of the new version is that it relies on clever special effects and pyrotechnics to get from A to B, sadder still is that the ingredients were there (actors such as Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta Jones) to do something different. This film should only watched as an example of studio butchery!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Haunting starts with Eleanor Vance, Nell for short, receiving a
phone call telling her to take a look at an advert in a paper. An
advert which is seeking people who suffer from sleeping disorders to
take part in some research conducted by Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson)
as well as paying $900 a week she gets a roof over her head for free.
Since Nell has just been chucked out of her flat & has no money this
doesn't sound such a bad idea & gives Marrow a call. Nell is instructed
to go to a huge Gothic cross between a castle & stately home 'Hill
House' which in reality is called Harlaxton Manor & is located in
England, once there she meets up with another test subject named Theo
(Catherine Zeta-Jones), they talk about Theo's fetching thigh high
boots for a bit & explore the House & eventually stumble upon the third
& final volunteer, Luke Sanderson (Owen Wilson). Then as if by magic
Dr. Marrow himself makes an appearance along with a couple of
assistants, Mary Lambetta (Alix Koromzay) & Todd Hackett (Todd Field).
That night Mary suffers an accident & is taken to the hospital by Todd
& strange things begin to happen, banging at doors, whispering noises &
an overall feeling of unease. The house seems to be effecting Nell more
than anyone else, it seems to be trying to tell her something,
something about it's dark past that Nell can perhaps put right but
there are evil forces at work that don't like house-guests...
The big, no wait sorry at $80,000,000 massive budget remake of The Haunting (1963) was co-executive produced , along with an uncredited Steven Spielberg, & directed by Jan de Bont & I actually found it a reasonably entertaining way to pass an hour & fifty odd minutes. The script credited to David Self based on the novel 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson had a re-write done on it by script doctor Michael Tolkin & maybe the reason it's a bit of a lightweight mess is because two separate writers worked on it at different times, maybe. The characters are dull & unoriginal with virtually no development at all, I didn't care about anyone except Zeta-Jones & even then only because she's a bit of a looker... The ghost story itself is weak, big bad ghost wants to kill everyone & generally be evil while one character has a sort of sixth sense to know what's going on while the others don't. It's all rather predictable, yawn. The Haunting is at it's best at the beginning when it relies on noises, spooky goings on & an air of mystery but unfortunately The Haunting then descends into a succession of CGI ghosts & special effects which are not scary in the slightest, from this point it's downhill all the way to the obligatory happy ending. On a positive note it moves along at a fair pace, it has a few decent sequences & it kept me entertained for it's duration. The one area where The Haunting does excel is with it's production design credited to Eugenio Zanetti which is both a wonderful asset but at the same time a problem. While the film undeniably looks sumptuous with some truly fantastic & grandiose sets which create a certain atmosphere I couldn't stop thinking that this was indeed a film I was watching, something very man-made, it all looks very fake & overblown. Technically The Haunting is top-notch & very polished throughout. There is no violence or gore besides a quick bloodless decapitation, this is family friendly horror all the way. The acting is pretty bad by all involved, Neeson looks embarrassed, Wilson is a crap actor whatever he's in & The Haunting's only saving grace is the delicious Zeta-Jones & her thigh high boots... The Haunting is a passable time waster of a film, there's nothing deep or meaningful here but it kept me quiet for a couple of hours. Everyone seems to hate it but I think it's just about worth a watch, definitely not the worst horror film I've seen but definitely not the best either.
This remake of the sixties classic of the same name has unfortunately
been somewhat slated by critics, although I feel it's better than most
people seem to think it is.
The location work is stunning and the set design has clearly had a lot of work put into it.
Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson and Catherine Zeta Jones all perform their parts quite well, but Lili Taylor is not as good as she should be. On paper she should be perfect for the role of Nell and for much of the film she provokes the necessary sympathy. She seems unable, however, to scream properly, instead letting what sounds like an animal cry. Also, she seems to say "Oh No" in exactly the same tone of voice every time she sees something frightening, although to be fair this is as much the fault of the script as it is hers.
Towards the end the atmosphere is slightly diluted by such things as having the beds and statues spring to life which makes these scenes much less frightening than they could be.
In spite of all this, this movie has a certain something that regardless of it's faults, makes me want to watch it again and again, and ultimately you can't ask much more from a film than that.
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